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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Dark Vineyard by Martin Walker

Walker, Martin.  The Dark Vineyard: A Mystery of the French Countryside.

This is a new author and new series for me, and one that I really enjoyed.  The setting, a small French village, the well-drawn characters of the inhabitants, and the obvious love of the author for the area and its people are all engaging.

It is the third in the series, the first is Bruno, Chief of Police and the second is The Caves of Perigord.  All three have beautiful covers evocative of the region and/or the mystery.
Bruno Courreges is the chief of police of the fictional village of St. Denis in the Dordogne region of France.  Bruno loves hunting, rugby, and wine, and he deeply loves his village and the surrounding countryside.  In his 10 years in the area, Bruno has become completely integrated into the local society and has no desire to be elsewhere.

The story opens with an arson that destroys a research building and fields of genetically modified crops.  The novel develops gradually as the characters and atmosphere are developed.  When two deaths occur, the novel takes a more serious turn.

Walker explores modern themes of environmentalism and commercialism by weaving them seamlessly into the plot--or perhaps, the other way around.

I suppose this is a cozy, but perhaps an edgier cozy with better character development than usual.  At any rate, Walker was so good at evoking atmosphere that I wanted to move to St. Denis and visit with the characters, sharing wine and camaraderie.

You might see a resemblance to Louise Penny's  Inspector Gamache series, but somehow this novel was warmer than the Inspector Gamache novels I've read so far.

If you have read any of Martin Walker's Bruno series, let me know, and I'll include a link to your review.

Fiction.  Police procedural/Mystery.  2010.  320 pages.


  1. I must add this to my list. I had a bit of a letdown with the last two Penny mysteries even though I love her main character. I'll have to check this one out and see what I think.

  2. Iliana, I loved the characters in this one. Do check it out!