18 August 2012

Review: THE CROWDED GRAVE, Martin Walker

  • Published by Quercus 2011
  • ISBN 978-1-84916-321-7
  • 358 pages
  • Source: my local library
  • #4 in the Bruno Courreges series
Synopsis (Amazon)

Life in south-west rural France is not the sleepy idyll you might suppose. Local duck and goose farms are being attacked by animal rights protestors attempting to halt the production of foie gras.

A senior policeman has been shot by terrorists believed to be the Basque Separatists of ETA. And if that weren't enough, a group of students have just unearthed a 'modern' skeleton during a dig at one of the ancient sites of this famous region and home to pre-historic man - a dig that has brought an influx of foreigners to the Dordogne.

It is up to Chief of Police Bruno Courrèges to get to the bottom of these seemingly unrelated events. Martin Walker spins a surprising and compelling mystery, laced with charm and a deep knowledge and love of France, past and present. It is a combination that will win him many fans.

My Take

Once again Martin Walker has delivered a very readable mystery.
Bruno's quiet locale of St. Denis faces mayhem when archaeologists discover a twenty year old skeleton in the excavation pit of a Neanderthal grave. And then animal rights protesters attack farms involved in the production of foie gras. On top of it all, government ministers from both France and Spain have decided to have a summit locally and Bruno is in charge of making the area secure.

So the pleasant domesticity of Bruno's usually peaceful life is disrupted. Former lover Isabelle comes back to deal with security arrangements and Bruno's English lady friend Pamela is conveniently needed in Scotland to take care of her mother who has had a stroke.

In many ways this is a very complex plot - there are so many things going on. The various plot lines intertwine again and again and unexpected connexions surface. All is skilfully done. Bruno's character is developed a little more and we learn a few new things about him.

If it wasn't for some of the violence towards the end of the book, you'd probably call THE CROWDED GRAVE a cozy.  There's much of the English village mystery about it and then it just occasionally flips into thriller mode, action set against a background of Basque Separationism.

My rating: 4.6

Read another review on EuroCrime.

Other Martin Walker titles reviewed on MiP


Keith Dixon said...

Hi - have just bought this book as I spend a lot of time in the area just north of the Dordogne, and write crime fiction myself. In fact my latest book, still being finished, concludes in the area. I look forward to reading this book, when I can get the chance!
Keith Dixon
(Mod this bit out if you want! I'll put a link to your blog on mine, now I've found it.)

Keith Dixon said...

Hi Kerrie - a follow up! I've tried to email you using the Kontakt button, but it's not working. I just wanted to say that I note you're living in Australia (I thought Paradise was France!). I've just edited a book for an indie publisher in OZ, called BDA Books. You might want to make contact or just check it out.
Sorry about using the comments for this but there doesn't appear to be another way of contacting you. You can use my Contact link on my blog to reply (I don't want to just add it here!)

Kerrie said...

I have fixed the form Keith. Thanks for alerting me about it


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