The Coldest Case (A Bruno, Chief of Police Novel) by Martin Walker
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|The Coldest Case (A Bruno, Chief of Police Novel) by Martin Walker|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: It's the fourteenth book in the series but is remarkably fresh and an interesting read. You don't need to have read earlier books in the series but if you have you'll find some of the relationships a little less confusing.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 368||Date: May 2021|
|External links: Author's website|
It was when he saw Elisabeth Daynes' work in the prehistory museum at Les Eyzies that chief of police Bruno Courreges had the idea which he thought might help his boss, chief of detectives Jalipeau, known as J-J, to solve a case which had haunted him for thirty years. The body of a young male was found in the woods but he was never identified and his killer never brought to justice. What if an artist could recreate the face from the skull and the resulting publicity be used to identify the young man? J-J calls the skull 'Oscar' and has a picture on his door: he sees it every time he leaves his office: he doesn't want to forget Oscar until his killer has been brought to justice.
The search for Oscar's identity and his killer is the essence of the story but this is the Dordogne and you're going to get the full tourist experience. Foremost is the food and wine, where you'll get details of individual dishes (I've made the Vichyssoise soup) and complete menus to the extent that I did actually consider putting the book in the cookery category as well as crime. Then I realised that I'd also have to put it in the history category - it's exceptionally good on what we think of as pre-history - as well as popular science to cover wine and oenology as well as climate change and there's a fair dollop of politics as well. Normally, I'd think of this as padding but Martin Walker is skilful and rather than seeming like an information dump you'll find that, in the course of reading an interesting and intriguing plot, you've been gently educated.
You could read this book without having read any of the thirteen earlier books in the series but you will find some of the relationships less confusing if you know a little of the background. Regular readers will recognise the characters who have reappeared throughout the stories, including Pamela and Isabelle, sometime lovers of Bruno, Balzac his dog (who becomes a father) and Hector his horse, whose love life is undocumented.
It's a cleverly constructed plot: DNA leads the police to the son of the dead man and then to a half-sibling and to a close friend of his mother who has information about the time just before the man's death. It's well-thought-out, compelling and thoroughly enjoyable read: I got through it far more quickly than I intended and I'm looking forward to the next book in the series. I'd like to thank the publishers for making a copy available to the Bookbag.
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