Review

Bruno is the police chief / sole policeman in a small village in the Dordogne, chummy with the town mayor and leading citizens, harassed by an ambitious but incompentent captain of gendarmes, and about to begin a relationship with a talented and beautiful lieutenant in the national police. The town itself is represented by: a wealthy land-owning baron; a pair of ex resistance fighters, one Gaullist and one Communist, who refuse to speak to one another; the son of an Algerian who, along with his wife, run the best cafe in town; and a youngish English woman who runs a B&B. He lives just outside of town in a small and recently restored farmhouse with his dog Gigi, keeps chickens, has a vegetable garden, and seems to know something about food, wine, and cooking. He’s haunted by his experiences a UN peacekeeper in Bosnia, where he took a bullet in the hip and saw his girlfriend killed.

So there, in outline, is where this series begins. Bruno is portrayed as competent and level-headed, appreciative of help from the politically connected mayor, and well away from any political views. We are meant to like Bruno: he teaches rugby and tennis to children and teenagers, he does his best to keep the villagers away from the excesses of the law, and wants genuinely to keep the peace, even when that means not quite enforcing the law. Basically, Officer Friendly.

The mystery in this first episode is the brutal murder of an elderly Algerian man, the grandfather of the cafe owner, who is found stabbed and with a swastika carved crudely into his chest. The investigation leads to possible National Front involvement, but things get complicated. This is not a whodunit in the usual sense: even the most astute reader would not be able to identify the murderer until Bruno himself does so - though Walker goes to some lengths to convince the reader after the fact that there was reason for suspicion. But it is an engaging story, with well-drawn characters, a pleasant setting, and a good deal of food and wine.

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Metadata Info

  • Title: Bruno, Chief Of Police (Bruno, Chief of Police #1)
  • Author: Martin Walker
  • Published: 2008
  • ISBN: 1847245072
  • Buy: Amazon search
  • Check out: Seattle library
  • Rating: 3.0 stars