Must Read for Francophiles
Reading Martin Walker’s novels set in the Périgord region of France IS almost as good as being there. Although nominally murder mysteries, the protagonist, Bruno Courrèges, Chief of Police of the fictional village of St. Denis, spends more time cooking mouthwatering meals, drinking exquisite Bergerac wines, horseback riding, playing tennis, and enjoying a daily coffee and croissant at Fauquet’s café accompanied by his basset hound, Balzac, than policing.
The mystery, such as it is, always plays second fiddle to depictions of the idyllic village life.
A former journalist, Walker has a pedantic streak so in addition to lush descriptions of Bruno’s culinary concoctions, readers learn about falconry, basset breeding, classical music, byzantine French bureaucracy, EU agricultural subsidies, sheep farming, and WWII history. Depending on your interests, it can be a bit much.
While the atmosphere can’t be beat, the characters are not as engaging. While other long-running mystery series keep me hooked with robust character development, Bruno and friends are somewhat one dimensional. You don’t need to read all fifteen in the series, but one or two offer a pleasant escape.
What Other Reviewers Say
Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review: “Walker knows exactly what he’s doing in this series, which artfully seasons its plots with regional lore about the sport of falconry and with lessons in French history.” (The Body in the Castle Well)
Who Wrote It
Martin Walker served as a foreign correspondent for The Guardian and was also the editor of United Press International. He served as a senior scholar of the Woodrow Wilson Center and Senior Director of the Global Policy Business Council, both in Washington, D.C. He now spends his time between the United States, Britain, and the Périgord region of France. He is the author of several nonfiction books in addition to fifteen Bruno Courrèges novels.