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Black Diamond by Martin Walker
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Black Diamond (2010)

by Martin Walker

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Rating: 4.5* of five

The Publisher Says: The third installment in Martin Walker's delightful, internationally acclaimed series featuring Chief of Police Bruno.

Something dangerous is afoot in St. Denis. In the space of a few weeks, the normally sleepy village sees attacks on Vietnamese vendors, arson at a local Asian restaurant, subpar truffles from China smuggled into outgoing shipments at a nearby market—all of it threatening the Dordogne’s truffle trade, worth millions of dollars each year, and all of it spelling trouble for Benoît “Bruno” Courrèges, master chef, devoted oenophile, and, most important, beloved chief of police. When one of his hunting partners, a noted truffle expert, is murdered, Bruno’s investigation into the murky events unfolding around St. Denis becomes infinitely more complicated. His friend wasn’t just a connoisseur of French delicacies, he was a former high-profile intelligence agent—and someone wanted him dead.

As the strange crimes continue, Bruno’s detective work takes him from sunlit markets to dim cafés, from luxurious feasts to tense negotiations—from all of the paradisial pleasures of the region to its shadowy underworld—and reunites him with a lost love, an ambitious policewoman also assigned to the case. Filled with an abundance of food and wine (including, bien sûr, many, many truffles) and a soupçon of romance, Black Diamond is a deliciously entertaining concoction that delivers all the complexity and delights of the Dordogne itself.

My Review: I'd like to be clear about one thing up front: No one pays me to write my reviews, and I got no free copy of this book to review it. Save your nastygrams.

What I did get from this third outing in the Bruno, Chief of Police, series was a serious jones for truffes cendrillons (or cendrées, as I knew the dish), the coal-baked tarts filled with truffled foie gras that are outstandingly rich and almost incredibly expensive. They're also the only way I actually *like* truffles.

*pause for near-lethal drooling*

So. Anyway. Truffles are obscenely expensive fungi, and the Périgord (where fictional St-Denis is located) is one of Earth's best places to find the highest quality variety of them. Naturally, this being a Bruno story, the initial push into crime and dishonesty comes from shenanigans at the truffle market. Naturally, this being a Bruno story, the malfeasance and wrong-doing stretch farther and wider than that. Naturally, this being a Bruno story, there is loving and glorious detail lavished upon the preparation and eating of meals. A very great deal less attention is paid to Bruno's rugby-playing, fire-fighting physique in action amoureuse.

I'm down with that. Sex I can get anywhere. A series of mysteries where Pomerol *drool* is fleetingly mentioned and Dom Pérignon is casually served at a public function (!!!), where the meals are...so listen, I don't need to belabor this, it's effin' para-bloody-dise that Walker's describing. A hot rugby-playing 40-year-old cop who can cook and knows his wines. Yes please.

By the end of this entry in the series, it's clear that our lad is as always the bestest Boy Scout in all France and he's got not a single problem with doing the Right Thing even if it's political suicide, even when it costs him dearly and personally, and then refusing to dodge, bob, and weave when shady souls want him to trim his sails expediently.

For this very reason, Bruno ends this installment with a vastly better material life, and a very greatly enlarged circle of influence. Hobnobbing with royalty, even minor royalty, grants a man access to things previously not available. Very useful in a sleuth's development; and as done by Walker in this book, perfectly logical and in fact sort of inevitable.

I'll cut to the chase: For a series-mystery fan, this procedural-cum-cozy-via-thriller series is catnip and should not be resisted. For a foodie, it's madness to pass up. For one who fancies gentlemen of a certain interesting age, it's damn near mandatory reading. (My Gentleman Caller has a serious book-crush on Bruno, for example. I'm not jealous it says here because so do I.) And if wine interests you, for heavens' sake go NOW and buy them all!


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. ( )
1 vote richardderus | Jul 27, 2014 |
Truffles are at the focus of this book, the third “Police Chief Bruno” series, set in France. There appears to be some shenanigans going on in the St. Denis Market – having to do with the substitution of inferior Chinese truffles into packages of purportedly French truffles. And it’s up to our hero, Benoit “Bruno” Courreges, to figure out what’s going on and how to stop it. Then a dear friend, and fellow truffle hunter, is murdered in a most hideous manner. After Hercule’s death, Bruno learns of his mentor’s secret past and how his death has national ramifications. Bruno also finds himself a co-executor of Hercule’s will and a recipient of his truffle journal – now missing.

Into the stew, the author adds in a violent Vietnamese-Chinese rivalry, an appearance by Bruno’s former lady love, his current lady’s seeming infatuation with a “green” mayoral candidate, and the winter holidays – with Bruno appearing as Father Christmas.

Of the three books I’ve read, I found Black Diamond my least favorite. The plot seemed a bit cluttered to me. But any deficiency in that regard is more than made up for by Bruno himself, a near flawless protagonist – someone I don’t necessarily believe is real, but who I wish were.

The books are part of an altogether wonderful series, and I look forward to reading more. ( )
  NewsieQ | Jun 23, 2014 |
Average ( )
  ebethe | Dec 20, 2013 |
The lat Bruno book that I had not yet read. Like the others, a good story with a wonderful setting.
I look forward to number# 5. ( )
  librarian1204 | Apr 26, 2013 |
Chief of Police Bruno is the heart of this delightful mystery series set in St. Denis, France. Sunlight and shadow, greed and generosity of spirit abound in this series. ( )
  cfk | Jul 31, 2012 |
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To Commandant Raymond Bounichou, old barbouze, great cook, good friend, one of the few to be given the honour of lighting the sacred flame at the Arc de Triomphe.
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There weren't many times that Bruno Courreges disliked his job, but today was one of them.
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Book description
France's Perigord region is the home of the exquisite black truffle, and at 5,000 euros a kilo, it's a treasured local asset. When reports come in that this unique delicacy is being adulterated with a cheaper Chinese version, chief of police Bruno Courrèges is asked to investigate the scam. In St. Denis market, a Vietnamese family runs a popular stall selling their country's dishes, until one morning their stall is overturned and wrecked by attackers who look Chinese. Bruno wonders if these are the opening shots of a Viet-Chinese triad war. When a horrific murder is added to the mix, Bruno has his work cut out to find the connection between present crimes and long-buried ones that are linked to France's colonial past. In this gripping new investigation, Bruno needs all his local knowledge, acumen, courage and charm to work his way towards the truth.
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In the wake of attacks on local Asian vendors and an increase in black-market ingredients that threaten the Dordogne's lucrative truffle trade, Chief of Police Bruno finds the case taking a personal turn when one of his hunting partners, a former high-profile intelligence agent, is murdered.… (more)

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