A Shooting at Chateau Rock by Martin Walker [6/10]

A Shooting at Chateau Rock” is British writer/journalist Martin Walker’s thirteenth in the Bruno series, roughly one a year, and it’s a strong showing after a couple of duds. Bruno is Chief of Police of a picturesque hamlet in southwestern France. Handsome, resourceful, smart as a whip, superbly personable, and a wonderful cook to boot, Bruno is both a quintessential mystery sleuth and a frustrating cliche, and the series offers the same dichotomy. Yes, Bruno’s gourmet meals with friends provide loads of the local color so vital for the modern mystery, but recent instalments have seemed more akin to cooking-and-and-equestrian romances than crime fiction. A Shooting at Chateau Rock ups Walker’s surehanded plotting and the result is a pleasing page turner. When Bruno investigates a deceased estate, he stumbles onto fraud and deception linked to a Russian semi-oligarch, and a complex thread of connections threatens to overwhelm the obsessed policeman. The usual roster of side characters is, for once, complementary and rewarding rather than distracting for the reader. All in all, I can recommend Number 13 as a fast-paced, atmospheric Bruno.

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