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The first of a series about life and crime in a small town in southwestern France spiced with good food, wine and crime. Some of the historical connection with Algeria is a good touch.
Very worth while to read this background on our beloved character, Bruno, chief of police in small town France. Can't add any more than what other fans have written below.
Having been in this area this year, Martin has absolutely nailed it! Can't wait to get hold of the next book in the series. Louise Penny, watch out!
There are many things to like about this book:
- A pervasive sense of place, local atmosphere and the pace of life in a small French market town.
- Convincing and complex personalities; Bruno is no one-dimensional cop; he has been wounded but is not cynical, has retained his humanity.
- A story line that holds together from beginning to end, makes sense, never farfetched.
- Frequent pauses in the pursuit of a solution, while Bruno takes time for love, friends and above all, food -- this is, after all, France (we are even treated to menus and recipes!).
- A highly informative insight into the political history of France and Algeria from WW2 to the present day, a topic not likely to be at all familiar to most readers.
So, if you're eager for an intense, action-packed crime drama, this one is not for you. But neither is it a tea-cozy mystery; the crime at issue is brutal enough and the cultural/racial tensions in the community are significant. Walker has achieved a remarkable balance, presenting a highly readable mystery populated by engaging characters.
A really well done police procedural set in France where Bruno is the chief of the small town and he knows everyone. The later twist in plot was something I knew little about, so it was also informative. I look forward to reading more.
Police procedural in a glorious setting, with a likeable, laid-back but obviously competent, small-town cop. Really interesting immersion in issues of French culture such as E.U. regulations, the Front National, and the massive immigration from Arab countries, with plenty of historical perspective. But everything stops for a gourmet meal. Terrific first entry in the Bruno Courrèges series.
Finally, a French mystery that explains how the various police and legal institutions fit together.
Thoroughly enjoyable novel. It could have been a bit less filled with food references and a bit more about a killing & subsequent investigation but I suppose that will gradually change as the series goes on. I am looking forward to reading more of Bruno's books. He is a really likable character and the town/commune is charming & idyllic - very much like Three Pines/Trois Pins in Louise Penney's series with Armand Gamache as the chief detective. Anyway, I enjoyed it a lot and intend to read the rest of the series as soon as I can get them.
Bruno, Chief of Police , the only police officer in a small town in the south of France is a former soldier who's chosen the slow pace and good cooking (much of it his own) of a beautifully described countryside. He's more interested in justice than in the letter of the law, and teaches tennis to small boys, so that they will grow up to be good citizens. It works, mostly. So when the first murder in memory occurs, it's a shock to everyone. The National Police are sent in to help. Bruno and his friend the Mayor don't like their methods--except that Bruno's very attracted to Isabelle, the only woman National Police officer. The murder victim is a reclusive elderly Arab from North Africa, one of a group who settled peacefully in the area; the younger generations are French citizens, and many are good rugby players--important to the French. What Bruno, the Mayor, and Isabelle conclude makes me want to read the rest of the series. I deducted some stars because a bit of explanation or translation of French phrases and history would have made the beginning of the book easier for me to understand. I soon got into it, however.
This first-in-series fills the senses - Martin Walker transports you right to rural France and the quirky, quaint community of St. Denis. While this has some cozy mystery elements, it's also based around a crime that is not for the faint of heart. A great blend of charm and grime (and wine!)
I really liked this, primarily because Bruno is just such a likeable guy. The book is carried by Bruno and his fellow residents of St. Denis. The description of the town and the people has me ready to pack my bags and be on the next flight to the Perigod.
The mystery was not too hard to solve, but the information about the role of the Algerians in WWII France and the ongoing roles they have played in the French army was quite fascinating. I also appreciated that Walker handled the problems of racism and ethnocentricity in a way that blended the discussion into the story rather than giving the reader a feeling of being preached at.
Not quite a cozy, not quite a noir, not quite a police procedural - it's all of these and more. Set in a fiercely independent yet patriotic rural France, St. Denis' lone policeman, Bruno, keeps the peace. He teaches tennis to children, makes his own wine, and has to deal with the town's first murder in memory - an old Arab with a swastika carved in his chest. A laid-back pace and wonderful descriptions of the setting and citizens of St. Denis make this an immersive novel - readers will smell the cooking and taste the flavors of France.
A wonderful start to a new series following life in the small French town of St Denis, through the eyes of its one and only police officer, Bruno. The story manages to both be enchanting -- lovely descriptions of life, food, and landscape -- and chilling, with the plot touching on the repression of Algerians, the Vichy regime, and immigration. I am eager to read the next in the series!
The setting, in the Dordogne region of France, is a delight; Bruno, every daughter's mother's dream. A cozy with flair that also provides some socio-political insight into modern France. And, laugh-out-loud funny in spots.
I will definitely be continuing on in this charming series. Bruno’s commonsense tactful approach to problems puts me strongly in mind of M.C. Beaton’s Hamish Macbeth. While not as “cozy”—there are a couple of graphic scenes—as Beaton’s books, there is a similar flavor to the style.
I'd been meaning to get into this series for quite awhile, so finally I started with the first in the line-up. Bruno is a very like-able guy who gradually demonstrates his depth, knowledge and intelligence through the story. This story takes a much darker turn than perhaps the beginning of the book suggests will follow, and I appreciated learning about this very troubling bit of French history. In microcosm, Martin shows us how very much more complicated the world is than we Americans, perhaps, perceive. Excellent read!
In beautiful and peaceful town in rural France, friendship and history are treasured. But a murder investigation reveals dark undercurrents of modern problems as well as hostilities still simmering since WW2.
The first book of the "Bruno" series is a page turner. Southwest France and the French culture are an integral part of the book. France is food and this book also adds a little of this and a little of that and the whole is very enjoyable.
I can hardly wait until we can get more of this series. Bruno is a gem and life in the Dordogne well worth exploring.
Light mystery novel written in the same sort of style as Alexander McCall Smith. The plot took me somewhat by surprise, and that is always a good thing. Apparently this is the first in a new series.