A promotion comes with a host of challenges for the Périgord region’s Bruno Courrèges (The Templar’s Last Secret, 2017, etc.).
As chief of police for the tiny Dordogne village of St. Denis, Bruno used to serve more as a town policeman, going to the square on market days to kiss the babies and chat with their grandmères. He even had time to coach the local women’s rugby team. But now that he’s been promoted to chief of police of the entire Vézère Valley, he’s facing the challenges that come with greater responsibility. He needs to ride herd on Louis, the town policeman in Montignac, who spends too much time in the local bars, and to mentor young, ambitious Juliette Robard, who just replaced the sole policewoman in Les Eyzies. He also needs to negotiate the unorthodox chain of command in rural France. Prunier, the commissaire de police for the Dordogne département, thinks that Bruno now works for him, but the Mayor of St. Denis is convinced that Bruno is still his subordinate. Bruno’s delicate calculations about whom he reports to and who reports to him become all the more stressful when an Englishwoman is found dead in Lalinde, definitely outside his old remit in St. Denis. Monika Felder left Gatwick for France to take a cooking course offered by Bruno’s friends Pamela and Miranda but never arrived. Her body is discovered in a cabin belonging to Patrick James McBride, a mysterious Irishman who owns a local vineyard and whose travels to Amsterdam, Florence, and Dubai suggest that he’s not a typical French winemaker. And if adjusting to his new role and solving his latest case weren’t enough, Bruno finds out that Paulette, a star of his rugby team with a decent shot at making the national squad, is unexpectedly pregnant.
Walker’s latest is replete with incident, but like the frequent dinners his hero prepares for friends, paying guests, and the occasional visiting FBI agent, its abundance seems just one more testimony to the richness of the region.