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The Crowded Grave

November 20, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

I have mentioned in several posts my ordering, and then waiting for, Martin Walker’s fourth novel in the Bruno, Chief of Police series, The Crowded Grave: A Bruno Courrèges Investigation. I was alerted to the series’ existence in Marilyn Stasio’s NYT Sunday Book Review crime roundup on Labor Day weekend, in which she briefly noted Black Diamond, Bruno number three.

This was perfect timing, as I have explained before, as we were in New York that weekend, about to head to Nantucket. A few days later, when I finished the Lee Child thriller I had downloaded for the trip, I bought the first Bruno book, the eponymous Bruno, Chief of Police It starts slowly, introducing us to the characters populating the fictional Dordogne town of St. Denis before bringing on the crime. But soon I was hooked, leading to my downloading and reading The Dark Vineyard and Black Diamond.

Black Diamond having been published just in August, I anticipated a long wait for Bruno 4. But I wasn’t thinking straight, what with Martin Walker being British and these being British books. Once I came out of my stupor and looked on the Amazon UK site, I discovered that I wouldn’t have to wait long at all for the British publication of Bruno 4. In fact, it was out already. The Crowded Grave, just out, the end of September. Unfortunately, I couldn’t download the Kindle version, that being unavailable here until US publication of the hardcover. I ordered the UK hardcover.

I wrote earlier this afternoon that I delayed reading it because I didn’t want to be in the middle of a hardcover when I headed to Chicago, which I did a week ago. Instead, I read Agassi’s autobiography, Open, finishing it Monday afternoon on the return flight. I had armed my Kindle with another book for the trip, just in case I finished Open, and began the new book on our flight’s descent. More on that book in a separate post to come. Tuesday I read a little more of it, but Wednesday I decided I wanted to get back to St. Denis without further delay.

St. Denis it was. Just a taste on Wednesday night, a little more on Thursday night. Come Friday evening, just 60 pages in, I could no longer resist. Instead of focusing on live coverage of the Presidents Cup golf competition from Melbourne, Australia, I turned my attention to southern France, the latest crimes and conspiracies with national and international implications into which Bruno’s small town was plunged yet again, and the most wonderful network of friends on whom Bruno relies. By Saturday morning, with a five-hour break for sleep, I had knocked off the final 300 pages of the book.

As I have written before, Bruno is marvelous company. He has found a welcoming home in St. Denis, cradle of early humans, home of the best food and wine that France has to offer. He can’t leave, even if love might call him elsewhere. It’s not going to happen. And who can blame him? Who, indeed, doesn’t want to join him?

Well, as the books make clear, not everyone wants to. Life in St. Denis can be limiting to one’s career. Fortunately, Bruno himself shows no interest in choosing career over his home, his friends, his view of the valley, and the joy of the seasons’ rhythm, even as he demonstrates in book after book that there’s not a wiser cop in all of France.

Now I must endure the long wait for Bruno 5. In the meantime, perhaps Gail and I can begin planning a visit to Bruno’s neighborhood.

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