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Bruno, Chief of Police by Martin Walker
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Bruno, Chief of Police (2008)

by Martin Walker

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This is the first novel to feature Bruno Courreges, Chief of Police in St Denis, a lovely town in the Perigord region of France. At first it feels like cozy crime fiction. One wants to be in that town, exchanging pleasantries with the residents, buying a locally made cheese at the market, enjoying a glass of wine.
Bruno certainly enjoys his relatively peaceful life following a traumatic period as a soldier in the Balkan war. Most crime is relatively minor, and the community is quite cohesive. His only problem seems to lie in preventing locals from hijacking the efforts of EU food inspectors who are suspicious about centuries old methods of food production.
This changes when the murder of an elderly Arab takes place. He is the relative of a well established North African family who are friends of Bruno. It looks as if a hate crime has been committed by racists, but the case takes Bruno into very deep waters involving France's wartime past. His attraction to a visiting police officer is also something of a distraction.
The light surface of this novel with it's many engaging characters conceals a darker reality that gives depth to the story. By the end, Bruno himself, struggling to keep his community together, has a new understanding of the forces beneath it's seeming tranquillity. The book is all the better for this steely underpinning and I shall certainly seek out the other books in the series. ( )
  Maura49 | Jun 20, 2014 |
Benoit “Bruno” Courreges is the only municipal police officer in the small town of St. Denis in the south of France. He is a decorated veteran of the war in the Balkans and now spends much of his time outwitting inspectors from the European Union. He views their food rules as petty – and doesn’t believe the farmers’ market, which has been going on for centuries with regulation, needs to answer to the interlopers.

But a grisly murder changes all that. An elderly man, a decorated French military veteran, is found dead, eviscerated and with a swastika carved into his chest. It appears there’s some tie to theNazi occupation of St. Denis during World War II. The repercussions and antagonisms from those days still reverberate.

Bruno is far from alone in his investigation. There appear to be layers and layers of law enforcement officialdom in France – and one of those helping is a young female officer whom Bruno is instantly smitten with – and it appears she reciprocates.

Amazing French meals, a little romance, and more than a little humor go into the tale of Bruno, Police Chief. A friend lent me the first two books in the series, which she and her husband read religiously. I must admit I was skeptical, but was hooked very early in the book. Most of the French phrases and words are easy to figure out, but my one annoyance with the book is a lack of explanation of others that aren’t familiar. The author, by the way, is a transplanted American, so the original story is in English, not a translation. Overall, this is a top-notch book with great writing, wonderful characters and a can’t-put-it-down story. ( )
  NewsieQ | Jun 13, 2014 |
I recently discovered this series thanks to online friends at LibraryThing.com.  The first of the series, subtitled "A Novel of the French Countryside" was as pleasant a read as a stroll through a small French town and a stop at a local bistro for wine and cheese, or a cafe au lait with a brioche.

Benoît (Bruno) Courrèges, is not only chief of police of a small village in the south of France, he's the ONLY policeman. He knows everyone in town, he loves to eat, he has a dog named Gigi to add some color to his personality, he's probably at the top of the area's eligible bachelor list, and he really doesn't have a hard life because there's no real crime in this town.

Suddenly, a retired North African, beloved by all in the village is murdered, and Bruno must contend with the appearance of the "helper" crime solvers from higher up the crime-solving food chain, and must adjust his thinking about what he knows about the victim. To say the least, his quiet life is upended.

I enjoyed this one- it reminded me of M.C. Beaton's Hamish MacBeth series, or Alexander McCall Smith's First Ladies Detective Agency books. I'll be looking for at least one more by this author to see if the entire series is worth pursuing. ( )
  tututhefirst | Apr 27, 2014 |
Okay, not great, bordering on good. ( )
  ebethe | Oct 8, 2013 |
The plot was not too bad. I can't say that this book met my expectations. I found that there was too much talk about the wine and the food. I understand that France is the place to eat, drink and be merry, but at the same time as a reader I don't need to know every time someone has another glass of wine or how the meal was prepared.

I wasn't all that thrilled about the way the whole story ended. I was disappointed about finding out you did it and not knowing how the romance ended.

What I did enjoy was the history behind it all.

I would recommend this to someone who likes reading about WWII, food and wine. ( )
  callmejacx | Sep 24, 2013 |
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On a bright May morning, so early that the last of the mist was still lingering low over a bend in the Vezere River, a white van drew to a halt on the ridge that overlooked the small French town.
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Meet Benoit Courreges, affectionately named Bruno, chief of police in a small village in the South of France where the rituals of the cafe still rule. A former soldier, Bruno has embraced the slow rhythms of country life. But the murder of an elderly North African who fought in the French army galvanizes his attention: the man had a swastika carved into his chest. When a visiting scholar helps untangle the dead man's past, Bruno's suspicions turn toward a motive more complex than hate, back to a tortured period of French history.… (more)

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