read by Peter Noble
Rural France might well appear to outsiders and tourists to be something of an idyll, but chief of police Bruno’s life is far from tranquil. The delicious compensations of wonderful food, good wine, faithful canine, fine horses to ride, and a choice of beautiful women can always help matters, but political intrigue, brutal murder and uncompromising ambition appear increasingly less welcome but controlling factors in Bruno’s complicated life.
First there is the (natural) death of an elderly resistance hero and the appearance of some old bank notes that might have come from a famous Second World War train heist, when millions of French Francs disappeared from under the noses of the occupying Germans. Then, the retired former head of Britain’s Joint Intelligence Committee has his house burgled, losing antiques and wine to thieves who have been targeting empty houses in the region, getting away with furniture and art that is strongly in demand on the other side of the English Channel.
One particular burglary leads to grisly murder, with the victim’s lover, a theatre director, charming Bruno’s friends, despite being the prime suspect. A further burglary, this time involving Jacqueline, a long-term political activist and writer, who is revealing the strength of the French reliance on the USA for their ‘independent’ nuclear defence, brings back old flame Isabelle to St Denis.
There is always a lot going on in Martin Walker’s novels – and tragic revelations regarding Bruno’s deep need to become a father and raise a family to make complete his otherwise rewarding existence make this a most poignant listen – brilliant and compelling.
Definitely one for the road.
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