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THE DARK VINEYARD by Martin Walker

THE DARK VINEYARD

By Martin Walker

Pub Date: July 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-307-27018-4
Publisher: Knopf

Eco-terrorism and big (wine) business threaten to disrupt an idyllic corner of France in a solid second mystery involving Chef de Police Bruno Courreges.

Prolific British journalist Walker (Bruno, Chief of Police, 2009, etc.) blends food, wine, community, history, tradition and general love of the Perigord region into a tidy yet thrill-free story. An act of arson ignites the plot, drawing 40-year-old ex-soldier Bruno, now municipal police officer of Saint-Denis, into the secret genetically modified crop experiments of an unauthorized research station. The local green movement attracts not only his suspicion but the attention of increasingly powerful levels of interest from Paris. Additional local upset is provoked by the arrival of American wine entrepreneur Fernando Bondino, keen to buy the land and exploit its water, grapes and potential appellation controlee status. Various attractive women snag loner Bruno’s attention, including flirtatious Quebecoise wine student Jacqueline, whose boyfriend Max is Bruno’s chief suspect until found drowned in a wine vat. The unraveling of the story’s moderate mayhem is done with flat perspicacity, and matters conclude with a gentle au revoir as Bruno embarks on a new romance.

A Francophile’s workmanlike mystery, prosaic although something of a poem to the region.