Jim Leffert's Reviews > Bruno, Chief of Police

Bruno, Chief of Police by Martin  Walker
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's review
Jan 04, 2012

really liked it

Benoit “Bruno” Courrèges, a young Frenchman, a veteran of traumatic UN service in Bosnia, is chief of police in small town in France’s southern Perigord region, where he enjoys the close knit community feel of scenic, tourist-friendly St. Denis. The grisly murder of an elderly Algerian man--a swastika is carved on his chest--attracts national attention and the interest of a politically well-connected, “on the make” young magistrate, who is determined to bring the murderer or murderers to well-publicized swift justice. The only problem is that Bruno believes that is unlikely that the chief suspect actually committed the crime.

As all this unfolds, we are treated to a close up view of small town customs and culture in a charming Southern France market town, where quarrels dating back to World War II as well as the contemporary political controversies involving immigrants from North Africa simmer and boil.

Bruno is an appealing young man with a virtuoso sense of how to navigate the political and emotional currents so as to keep on-the ground realities from clashing with legal niceties. A magnet for the women, he is also shy, as we discover. Somehow, all of Bruno’s characteristics didn’t add up to a fully realized flesh-and-blood person to me but the in depth portrait of an appealing town culture and twist and turns of the plot, with connections to historical currents and national politics, carried me along.
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