The first time readers met this village lawman was in Bruno, Chief of Police. He was something of a French version of Andy Taylor of Mayberry: as a matter of course he didn’t carry a gun, he sometimes upheld the spirit of community well-being rather than enforce the letter of the law, and he dealt with the villagers with a natural but unadvertised psychology instead of simply compelling obedience. He was also single and had a history of discreetly dating a number of women. He was the only local police officer, having no Barney Fife at his side, but when crimes of greater significance than a parking ticket arose he had to collaborate with his immediate boss, the town mayor, and with wider French enforcement agencies, including the national police. He, unlike Sheriff Andy, had a bit of a repertoire in the cooking department and was especially famous in the tiny PÃ©rigord commune for whipping up heavenly truffle omelettes. Bruno, whose actual but never used name was BenoÃ®t, was deeply content to remain in Saint-Denis, although as a highly decorated former soldier who had traded in one uniform for another, his services would have been eagerly accepted by the Police Nationale in Paris itself.
A paean to the Dordogne, an exploration of fractious French history, and the debut of the most self-possessed, accomplished, even-tempered, life-savoring Holmesian character ever, Walkerâ€™s first Bruno novel proves once and for all that heavyweight journalists can write mystery novels.