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Mystery Monday – Bruno, Chief of Police

Bruno, Chief of Police by Martin Walker

Review by Cheryl R. (Spuddie)

 

Series order: #1
Main Character: Benoit Courrèges, aka Bruno, in St. Denis, France
Benoit Courrèges is the chief of police in a village in southern France. A former soldier who has seen horrible things, he’s very happy to settle into the slow, easy routine of village life and uses his head and heart to solve the disputes that do sometimes crop up, rarely using his police power to arrest anyone. He’s renovating his home outside the village, an old shepherd’s cottage that he’s already put years of work into, and loves cooking and fine wines. So life is good for Bruno, which is what he’s known as to the locals. And then the grisly murder of a North African immigrant, also a retired soldier, rocks the town, and Bruno must put aside his gentle ways to apprehend the killer.
It took me awhile to warm up to Bruno. At first, it felt to me like the author was trying to copy the style of Louise Penny, who writes one of my very favorite series set in French Quebec in Canada. The ambience of the village seemed quite similar to Three Pines, and it seemed as though Bruno also was a bit of an oddball detective with different ways of thinking and looking at the world. So as I first embarked on this read, I was a bit resentful that anyone would even TRY to emulate Penny’s series. As I got into the middle of the book however, it became clear that Bruno was going to be his own man, and St. Denis, his village, was definitely not Three Pines. Thank heavens for that!
As a lover of foreign mysteries, one of the things I enjoy about them is the immersion into a totally different culture, the description of day-to-day life that is so different from my own. I’ve learned a lot of probably useless facts about the world from reading fiction, but also have had glimpses into other ways of life, belief systems, political systems, and the like. For example, while there are always certain procedural similarities in murder investigation from one country or locale to another, there are often differences based on different laws, how the regulatory hierarchy is set up, and so on. But as in so many murder mysteries regardless of where they take place, Bruno must tread carefully and often ends up bucking the wishes of his superiors if he wants to actually solve the case rather than just quickly come up with the most convenient suspect. He must delve deeply into the dead man’s past to do this, which leads him dangerously close to some things important people don’t want brought to light.
Although I had a few problems with the book, small annoyances, by the time I finished, I had come to like Bruno and his little village of St Denis very much. I don’t know if it will become a favorite, but I am definitely looking forward to the second in series. Four solid stars!
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One Response to “Mystery Monday – Bruno, Chief of Police”

  1. thanks for the review.
    I discovered Bruno through Bruno and the Carol Singers, and loved it a lot:
    http://wordsandpeace.com/2012/12/12/i-love-france-39-2012-66-review-bruno-and-the-carol-singers/

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