The Body in the Castle Well (A Bruno, Chief of Police Novel) by Martin Walker
|The Body in the Castle Well (A Bruno, Chief of Police Novel) by Martin Walker|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: It's book twelve in the series but is still remarkably fresh and deeper than you might expect. A good read with some thought-provoking points covered. Don't read if you're on a diet - the food is just too tempting.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 384/11h9m||Date: June 2019|
|External links: Author's website|
Claudia Muller was an American, studying art history and being mentored by an eminent French art historian and Resistance war hero in Limeuil in Perigord. She was beautiful, wore designer clothes and was well-liked by everyone. She didn't parade her wealth or her father's White House connections. In fact, her closest friend was a man recently released from prison. So when she left a lecture saying that she felt ill, and her body was later found at the bottom of the castle well, it seemed that the likeliest explanation was that this had been a dreadful accident with the only people to blame being the builders who had left the well unsealed.
Only, there was just so much which just didn't seem to add up. The assumption was that Claudia had been trying to rescue a kitten, but there was no ledge on which the kitten could have been stranded. Why was Claudia so drugged? Claudia's landlady seemed to be very aware of Claudia's possessions - was she spying on her? Was Claudia's research which suggested that some of the local hero's art collection might not be quite what it seemed, connected to her death? It was all very puzzling for Lieutenant Bruno Courrèges, chief of police for St Denis and the Vézère valley and he wasn't going to let it go, no matter what the pressure was from the FBI, the American Ambassador to Paris and some rather shady people sent by Claudia's father.
It's a trail which is going to lead Bruno through the ruins of Berlin in 1945 and to France's colonial war with Algeria in the sixties, and whilst we watch that story unfold we have the pleasure of the Dordogne countryside and the glorious food which Bruno cooks and eats. Don't read this book if you're on a diet: the descriptions of the food are detailed to the extent that you could cook some of the dishes. This isn't 'healthy eating' country: it's a heart attack waiting to happen, complete with oven temperatures. Enjoy it without having to eat it.
It's not just the countryside and the food which come off the page - the characters do too and there are plenty of old friends (human and animal) for you to make friends with again. Bruno's love life becomes even more complicated.
All this might place the book as cosy crime but there's plenty which lifts the plot above that genre. There's a thought-provoking look at art fraud - how it takes place and the ways that it can be detected. Martin Walker has obviously done his research and he stays just on the right side of shoehorning it all into the book. He was good too on immigration from Algeria and the problems relations with the ex-colony had caused.
I was surprised by the ending, but it was satisfying and the book was a good read. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
The Body in the Well reads well as a standalone, but you'll get more out of it if you read the books in chronological order. If you like your crime mixed with food, we think you might enjoy Cookin' The Books (Tish Tarragon Mystery) by Amy Patricia Meade.
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