St. Denis chief of police Bruno Courrèges (The Children Return, 2015, etc.) turns his attention from cabbages to cars.
The Concours de Élégance brings a bevy of classic beauties to the Périgord. Jack Crimson dusts off his Jaguar Mark 2. Horst, a German architect, helps his friend Clothilde emerge from her Porsche Speedster. Bruno’s friend Annette sits at the wheel of her Jaguar S-type, her English friend George Young beside her. Sylvestre Wémy drives his Bugatti from Marckolsheim. Fabiola shows off her Renault Zoe electric car, and town councilor Alphonse drives a Kango. But none of these automotive wonders can hold a candle to the Bugatti Type 57C, known as the Atlantic. Only four of the cars were ever produced: one is owned by Ralph Lauren, one was destroyed, one is in a California museum, and the fourth was lost in World War II while being driven across France. Since the Atlantic’s path would have taken it through Périgord, and arguably near St. Denis, the car aficionados’ interests are piqued. At the peak of all piques are Sylvestre and George Young, and their dogged curiosity makes Bruno wonder just how far they might go to track down the car of their dreams. Bruno has other things on his mind. Young Félix, son of a local cleaning lady, is caught shoplifting, someone wings a pebble at a horseback rider, and elderly historical researcher Henri-Pierre Hugon is found dead in his study. Plus, the always-indispensible lunar almanac tells Bruno when it’s time to plant, and his neighbors’ daughter, Martine, provides a delightful distraction all her own. But the lost Atlantic keeps drifting through his inner landscape until murder gives its disappearance a new urgency.
Walker’s latest Bruno adventure has a lighter touch than earlier entries but offers as pleasing a puzzle as any.