Bruno Courreges is the Chief of Police in the tiny French town of St Denis in the Dordogne. His days are filled with humdrum routine such as helping the market stall holders elude EU food inspectors, and coaching the local junior rugby team. Then a reclusive local man is found executed in his home. Suddenly St Denis is at the centre of a whirlwind of criminal investigations and political game-playing, and Bruno feels obliged to involve himself in the investigation, if only to protect St Denis and its citizens.
When reading this book it helps to understand that the Chief of Police in the French system is a very minor local functionary, and not the sort of senior officer you might expect. Bruno is like a French Dixon of Dock Green; the real police work is done by the Gendarmerie and the Police Nationale detectives. By placing himself in the centre of the investigation, Bruno exceeds his authority and hence treads on a few toes.
This is the first of a series of novels, and Martin Walker seems to have created the French version of Midsomer Murders, where a bucolic rural paradise continually becomes the unlikely scene of a major crime, all of which is solved tidily and with a minimum of fuss.
Unlike the TV show, there is a darker edge to this book, as Walker describes Bruno's grim past as a para serving in Bosnia. This serves to make Bruno a more complex and interesting character, but Walker's plot is pretty straightforward and disappointingly easy to anticipate as it unfolds. Many of the minor characters are stereotypes, and Walker's resolution is a little too unlikely.
Edited by California Dreamer - 6/9/13 at 5:55am