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Bruno Chief of Police [Paperback]

Martin Walker
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
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Book Description

2 April 2009

Captain Bruno Courreges goes by the grand title of Chief of Police, though in truth he's the only municipal policeman on staff in the small town of St Denis in the beautiful Perigord region of south west France. Bruno sees his job as protecting St Denis from its enemies, and these include the capital's bureaucrats and their EU counterparts in Brussels. Today is market day in the ancient town. Inspectors from Brussels have been swooping on France's markets, attempting to enforce EU hygiene rules. The locals call the Brussels' bureaucrats 'Gestapo' and Bruno supports their resistance. What's more, here in what was Vichy France, words like 'Gestapo' and 'resistance' still carry a profound resonance. When an old man, head of an immigrant North African family, is found murdered, suspicion falls on the son of the local doctor, found in flagrante playing sex games surrounded by Nazi paraphernalia. But Bruno isn't convinced, and suspects this crime may have its roots in that most tortured period of recent French history - the Second World War, a time of terror and betrayal that set brother against brother.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus (2 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847245986
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847245984
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 21,994 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Martin Walker and his family have had a home in the Perigord region of France since the 1990s. We were drawn by the food and wine and engrossing history of the place and have become ever more connected to this gastronomic heartland of the country by friends and neighbours, dog and chickens, garden and countryside.

And among the friends is our local village policeman (and Martin's tennis partner) who inspired the series of mystery novels based around Bruno, chief of police.

After 25 years as a foreign correspondent for Britain's The Guardian newspaper, and then another stint in think-tanks in Washington DC and as editor-in-chief of United Press International, the sweet life of the Perigord is a delight.

Still a senior scholar of the Woodrow Wilson International Centre and a senior fellow of the Global Business Policy Council, both in Washington DC, Martin stays connected to the world of global economics and policy. And from giant American wine concerns to Chinese businessmen, from Basque terrorists to animal rights activists, from New York hedge funds to the global arms trade, this wider world keeps intruding into the tiny corner of paradise in Perigord that Bruno is sworn to protect.

Product Description

Amazon Review

If a publisher is particularly celebrated for finding really cherishable novels and authors, attention must be paid. So, when the publisher Quercus (for instance) comes up with something new, those in the know are aware that it's usually something special. Is that the case with Martin Walker’s Bruno, Chief of Police?

Martin Walker has a solid journalistic background, and is the author of several acclaimed work of non-fiction, including The Cold War: A History, along with a historical novel,The Caves of Périgord -- but none of this is necessarily a copper-bottomed guarantee of success in the crime fiction genre. Fortunately, Bruno, Chief of Police turns out to be a quietly assured piece of work, full of quirky touches and characterised with real exuberance.

The eponymous Captain Bruno Courrèges is in charge of a modest force in the town of St Debis in the Périgord region of France (allowing Walker, of course, to utilises things he’d gleaned for his previous novel set in the region), and Bruno is not your typical hard-hitting copper: he never carries the gun he owns, and barely needs to arrest people. But suddenly all is turmoil in the town as inspectors from Brussels swoop on the rural market, making many enemies. Bruno is worried by the fact that this phenomenon is invoking memories of the town's ignoble Vichy France past. Then an old man from a North African immigrant family is murdered…

This is quirkily inventive stuff, and Walker‘s Bruno has all the auguries of the becoming a crime fiction favourite. --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


The pleasures of life in the Dordogne, some distinctive well-rounded characters and an intriguing mystery are a winning combination in Martin Walker's Bruno, Chief of Police … Walker's relaxed style and good humour help to bring to life his engaging hero and his delightful home and make one of the most enjoyable books I've read in a long time' Susanna Yager, Sunday Telegraph.

The Alexander McCall Smith of La France Profonde. No one should be allowed to go on holiday to France this summer without a copy' Francis Wheen.

Hugely enjoyable and absolutely gripping… the Maigret of the Dordogne' Antony Beevor.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pièce de Résistance 8 April 2009
By Diacha
Martin Walker's "Bruno, Chief of Police" is a well-crafted mystery which -if not taken too seriously- makes for an agreeable read.

Bruno Courrèges is chief of the police municipale (and indeed the only officer on the local force) in the Périgord town of St Denis. Bruno is an ex-soldier, decorated for bravery in the Balkans. He is manifestly overqualified for his position but he is an orphan and has been struck by tragedy in love. St Denis is his first real home, St Denis' townspeople are his family. " I'm happy here," he tells his more conventionally ambitious lover when she challenges him to seek more from life, "I'm busy, I think I'm useful and I'm certainly not wasted. It's a way of life that pleases me."

St Denis itself is the perfect spot for a Maylesian tradeoff between way of life and the Big World. It is an Englishman's idyllic vision of life in la France profonde. The Sun always shines. Tables are well-stocked with paté ,truffles and cheese. Every Frenchman worth the name has concocted his own vin de noix and believes it without equal. Neighbors help one another build their houses. Expatriate Brits are made to feel at home, even as they commemorate Waterloo day on the eighteenth of June, the same day as the celebration of de Gaulle's Declaration of Free France. Life revolves around festivals, parades, the local tennis and rugby clubs, and, oh yes, the black market. The wily citizens conspire effortlessly to thwart intrusive bureaucrats from Paris and Brussels, even as their well-connected mayor contrives to obtain every conceivable central government and EU grant for local projects. Ah, Toujours Dordogne.

Inevitably, there is a snake in paradise. An elderly Algerian war hero is murdered.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful Dordogne Debut 31 July 2009
The only reason I picked this book off the shelf in the library is because I was wondering if it was the same Martin Walker I'd been listening to for years as a commentator on my local NPR station. When I saw that it was, I took a closer look and, being a fan of crime fiction, thought I'd give it a go. Little did I suspect that I'd be so thoroughly engrossed by the routine of a small-town French policeman that I'd set aside all other reading for three days to tear through it.

The book is set in a quintessentially quaint and charming small town (pop. 2,900) in the super-picturesque Dordogne region. The opening chapters are all about establishing the sights, smells, and rhythms of the town and the titular character's role within it as a kind of avuncular, sensible enforcer of the law. Well, not quite all laws (especially not the strict food processing laws of the EU), but the more important ones (unless you think drunk driving is important). However, soon enough, the quiet little town is devastated by the murder of a quiet old Algerian -- the father of the town's math teacher, and the grandfather of the town's rugby star.

This stirs up all kinds of tension, and as the National Front, provincial detectives, and prosecutors and politicians from Paris all flood in to get involved, Bruno has to do his best to protect the people of his idyllic town from all these outsiders.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A thoroughly absorbing, original and satisfying read, redolent of the sights and smells of rural France. I found it more atmospheric and enjoyable than the Maigret novels I have read, prizing as I do the local atmosphere of a book as much as the actual mystery itself. I found the central thread of the story very credible, rooted as it is in France's colourful history. The townspeople's quiet determination to defend their kitchen sink economy against the snoopers from Brussels seemed as believable as it is amusing. Bring on the next one!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bruno Chief of Police 28 Jun 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book was reviewed in the Daily Mail and having spent time in the general area where the book is set I thought it may be interesting. How right I was this is a rattling good story what I would call a page turner.
I couldn't put it down until I had finished it. I would recommend it to everyone.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Faux french. 25 July 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A nice idea by an English writer to produce a "French" crime book for English francophiles...but its virtues are its vices and stereotypes abound.Still a quirky read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A curate's egg 8 Mar 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Good in parts! Rather pedestrian writing, but loved the sense of place Martin Walker invokes. Really makes one want to visit the region. Most characters somewhat one dimensional especially the women. Although set in the French countryside the book somewhat reeks of middle class England.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This novel, the first of a series, is set in the Dordogne area of South west France, the next major river valley north of where my family lives. The book itself was recommended to me by a local English friend and I had been hoping to find a great new series to read, based in an area I know well.

The first book in the series is under £2 for a Kindle download from Amazon so it was a good way to sample without splashing £7 on a paperback. I was even able to start reading on the Sunday it was recommended to me, deep in South West France. The internet is a wonderful tool for instant gratification!

To the story, which I went to read WANTING to like, yet I came away disappointed.

Probably the most important thing in a crime novel is the plot, and this works so I was able to read this through to the end. It is the story of a typical sleepy rural French town, where there is a murder that appears to be a hate crime. Of course, nothing is that simple and the investigation unfolds down through a number of twists and turns, relatively conventional but to a clear conclusion.

Martin Walker, a Guardian journalist, lives part of the year in the Dordogne so I assumed the research and setting would be up to scratch. It is, but in a way that makes it one of two weaknesses of the novel; the other being the characterisation. Had I not known that Walker had published a previous novel I would have assumed this is a first novel, with the associated faults and weaknesses.

The two main problems go hand in hand. The best way I can describe them is to say this story is "murder in 'A Year In Provence'". There are lots of colourful French characters but they verge on or move into caricature.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
slow burner but great
Published 8 days ago by paul
1.0 out of 5 stars Tedious romanticised travelogue
What a tedious book. Endless descriptions of nonessential rituals. Having lived in the region I can say it is accurate, but I just gave up with the sloooow pace
Published 1 month ago by Bill
5.0 out of 5 stars More than a mystery
St Denis is a town of a few thousand souls in the Drodogne. A particularly nasty murder occurs. The investigation, complicated by conflicting areas of responsibility, proceeds... Read more
Published 1 month ago by G. M. Sinstadt
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb stories
If you love rural France, you'll love these books. Humourous, whimsical, informative easy reading with great crime-thriller story-lines. A brilliant read!
Published 1 month ago by Jane
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read for any Francophile
For anybody who has spent time in rural France, Walker 's first novel is a delight. Great story, engaging characters, you can smell the coffee and the lavender fields, and it... Read more
Published 1 month ago by W. Ingham-barrow
4.0 out of 5 stars BRUNO
a very good French murder mystery which also gives you a look into the French rural lifestyle which I think I could easily adapt to. Read more
Published 1 month ago by C. Winterburn
4.0 out of 5 stars A Cosy murder mystery
This is a book of a Chief of Police in a small hamlet in France. He is well respected throughout the community not only keeping the peace but training the local Rugby & tennis... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Tony Bendall
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good and entertaining.
A very accurate but also chilling depiction of how things are in rural France. A very endearing main character who has his own dark side.
Published 2 months ago by Helene Gray
4.0 out of 5 stars A happy read.
Bruno brings back happy memories of a police sergeant in Blackpool during my early childhood in the years before WWII. He could have been the model for Bruno.
Published 2 months ago by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely series, I felt as though I were in France
Really enjoyed reading Bruno, the characters were so beautifully written I felt as though I could go there and meet them all. Read more
Published 3 months ago by happycamper
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