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The Dark Vineyard by Martin Walker
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The Dark Vineyard (2009)

by Martin Walker

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This is the second book in a continuing series set in and around a small village in France. I was slow to warm to this entry in the series - the crime and mystery here weren't really of interest. What I like about this and the prior novel in the series are all the elements of French life in a small village - the charm and romance. By the finish I was mostly satisfied even if I didn't quite believe all the intrigue wrapped up at the end. In truth I found part of it almost too preposterous and unbelievable if not impossible. (The impossibility concerns the nature of a death and subsequent planted evidence). I was happy also to see that Bruno's cooking skills and romantic interests did get some play here.

I did get a chuckle midway when "UCD" shows up on a sweatshirt and we learn the character spent 4 years at the University of California at Davis with their famous wine program. In the summer of '74 while I was an undergrad at UCD I spent a couple weeks hauling around containers, weighing, measuring various grapes for a viticulture department study of some sort. Eating some of the grapes afterwards was a little reward too. It was an almost forgotten memory until the mention here rekindled it.

I do sort of like that our main character Bruno is truly a good guy and despite some misgivings here I will happily read on in the series. ( )
  RBeffa | Jun 25, 2018 |
Very laid-back, cozy mystery, lovable characters and very atmospheric feeling for village live in rural France. The author has a nice style, very personable and easy to get into. My main problem is the incredibly slow pace and all the time spent on digressions or incidents that were somewhat peripheral but still treated as if they were central to the plot - whatever, the pace was too slow for me. I might still give another one a try before giving up on this series. ( )
  MitchMcCrimmon | Apr 27, 2018 |
#2 Bruno, Chief of Police

Ah – (fictional) St. Denis, in southwest France, the home of Bruno, chief of police and all things southern France-y. In this episode industrial espionage threatens the local wineries, a research station growing genetically modified crops is burned down, and a big US winemaker wants to buy up land in the valley to produce a homogenous commercial product that is anathema to Bruno and most of the people of his community.

Walker captures modern life in rural France: where the locals still take their own containers to the local wineries and fill their own for one Euro a liter or less, but where “Saint-Denis now boasted four bakeries, four salons, four real estate agencies, three banks, three shops selling foie gras and other local delicacies, but there was only one grocery and one butcher’s shop. The fishmonger had long since given way to an insurance agency. Another grocery had been replaced the previous winter by a business that serviced computers and sold cell phones and DSL lines for the Internet. And a butcher had retired in the spring and now rented his premises to a real estate agent. It was no longer the Saint-Denis Bruno had first come to a decade ago [written 2009], when the small towns of rural France still retained the shops and the texture he remembered from his boyhood. Now people shopped at the supermarkets on the outskirts of town, or drove to the complex of shopping malls and hypermarkets outside Périgueux, forty minutes away.”

I continue to love this series.

4½ stars ( )
  ParadisePorch | Mar 21, 2018 |
I really enjoy having found Martin Walker's Bruno series - love the French countryside, small town life and interesting crimes Bruno has to solve and, after reading two of them I do have to say they're not quickly unraveled. Good reading and series. ( )
  VictoriaJZ | Dec 17, 2017 |
I enjoy this series. I really like Robert Ian McKenzie's narration. He has a lovely voice and good accents where needed. I enjoy getting to know the characters and the town. The mystery is satisfying and the atmosphere is delightful. The wonderful food descriptions make me hungry though. ( )
  njcur | Jul 31, 2017 |
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Epigraph
Wine is bottled poetry. – Robert Louis Stevenson
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To the Baron
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The distant howl of the siren atop the mairie broke the stillness of the French summer night.
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Book description
Op een zomerochtend wordt politiechef Bruno Courrèges ruw gewekt door de sirene op het gemeentehuis van Saint-Denis, die de vrijwillige brandweer oproept. Bruno volgt de brandweer naar een grote loods die in lichterlaaie staat en bijgevolg het omliggende wijnveld in vlammen zet. Enige tijd later wordt het dorp in de Périgord bezocht door een Californische wijnmaker met grootse plannen. Bruno laveert tussen voor- en tegenstanders op zoek naar de dader en probeert te voorkomen dat deze nog grotere misdaden begaat….
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Gourmand law enforcer Bruno Courreges investigates both an arson fire that targeted a GMO crop-research station and two mysterious deaths which are somehow related to the competition between three winemakers for a fertile Saint-Denis property.

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