Martin Walker – The Shooting at Château Rock

Martin Walker – The Shooting at Château Rock

The death of an old sheep farmer does not seem too suspicious, he was suffering from heart problems and scheduled for getting a pacemaker. Yet, when his son and daughter find out that they have been disinherited and that their father had planned to move into a luxurious retirement home, this raises questions. Even more so when neither the insurance nor the notaire responsible for the contract can be gotten hold of. While Bruno Courrèges, Chief of Police of St. Denis, investigates, he also enjoys the Dordogne summer and especially the time with his friends, amongst them former musician Rod Macrae who lives in an old nearby castle and is waiting for his children to spend some time there. Bruno is fond of the two now grown-ups and quite surprised when gets to know Jamie’s girl-friend: Galina Stichkin, daughter of a superrich oligarch and close friend of the Russian president.

The 15th case for the amiable French policeman again offers the pleasant atmosphere of the southern French countryside with a lot of talk about the historical heritage of the region and even more about the local food and the best way to enjoy it. What starts with a suspicious case of foul play and thus seems to be quite in line with the former novels, quickly, however, turns into a highly political plot covering debatable recent affairs and bringing the big political picture to the small community. Therefore, “The Shooting at Château Rock” isn’t just a charming cosy crime novel but rather a complex political mystery.

There are several reasons why one can adore the Bruno, Chief of Police series. On the one hand, you will be never disappointed when you like to delve into the French cuisine and learn something new about the Dordogne regions rich nature and food. On the other hand, this is surely not the place for fast-paced action with a lot of shootings and deaths. The plots centre around the people and some very basic motives for their deeds – as expected, all to be uncovered by Bruno.

What I liked most this time was how Walker combined a petty crime – if one can call a cold-blooded murder a petty crime – with the global organised crime which operates in the financial sector just as in politics and is long beyond being controlled by official security agencies. He convincingly integrates real life events which shook the public and will ever remain notes in the history books of where mankind simply failed to protect civilians from underground forces with their very own agenda.

Another perfect read for some summer escape to the French countryside.

Martin Walker – The Templars‘ Last Secret

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Martin Walker – The Templars‘ Last Secret

Rural France, St Denis in the Périgord region. Police officer Bruno this time has company: the Justice Ministry has send Amélie Plessis to get insight into basic police work. Before they can really get to know each other, they are called to the Commarque castle where a young woman was found dead. She seems to have been about to write some graffiti on the wall when she fell down. But soon they detect traces of foul play. The place of the crime scene does not seem to have been chosen by coincidence and soon Bruno and Amélie have to realise that they are not dealing with a simple murder case here, killing out of love or the like, but they are in the middle of an international plot of terrorism which threatens the lovely and peaceful region.

In his tenth case, we meet Bruno as we already know him from former novels: down to earth, a weakness for good food and the landscape and in order to solve his cases, he relies on his knowledge of the human nature and his good contacts in the region. Another woman enters the bachelor’s life, but this time she does not immediately win his heart, they have a rather professional relationship which turns over to some kind of friendship and liking. Both protagonists seem to be quite authentic and drawn from life.

The case is much more complicated than most of the others before. This time, the cause does not lie within the region or the people from the Périgord, but Martin Walker constructs a complex case of well-known Templar legends which are always attractive to a lot of people due to the mysteries around the order and any unanswered questions – not to talk of the Holy Grail – combined with international terrorism and threats as we, sadly, have witnessed in the last few years in Europe. I especially liked the development of the plot which made absolutely sense from an investigative point of view and was in no way farfetched in its extent.

All in all, exactly what I would expect in a novel from the Bruno series: an interesting case of murder embedded in the beautiful French countryside with hints at its food and culture.