The Crowded Grave
A Mystery of the French Countryside by Martin Walker
Review: St. Denis Chief of Police Benoit Courrèges — everyone knows him as Bruno — has much on his hands. In addition to honoring a police officer killed in the line of duty by a terrorist while preparing for an international summit to address what is sure to be more terrorist activity in the region, a skeleton has been found at a local archeological dig, a not unexpected find … though the Swatch watch on its wrist is … in The Crowded Grave, the fourth mystery in this series by Martin Walker.
Bruno scarcely has time to to deal with the summit, to which he has been ordered to participate. "Why not hold the summit in our own Basque region," Bruno asks … and away from St. Denis, he silently muses. "Security," is the political reply he gets. "This is as close as you can get to the Basque country without having any Basques." Enough of international politics, he thinks. He has his own local problems with acts of vandalism in the area, most likely city people protesting the traditions of their country brethren. Still, it must be dealt with. If Bruno's life were only just simple police work. Now he has a new nightmare to deal with, a magistrate assigned to St. Denis, who is a vegetarian feminist, doesn't drink and thinks hunting is barbaric. "They must be mad," thinks Bruno … and he's not far off the mark there … and in ways he scarcely imagines.
The books in this series are all about style and substance, and The Crowded Grave is blessed with an abundance of both. It's hard to argue too much style — the French countryside and its residents are brought to life in beautifully crafted detail — but one might quibble a bit about too much substance: there is a lot going on the small town of St. Denis, so much so that it seems at times as if the subplots are stumbling over each other. The political terrorist and ecoterrorist storylines clash a bit, each diluting the other. The best parts involve the archeological dig hinted at in the title and the introduction of a newcomer to the region, one at odds with everything it stands for and, of course, Bruno himself. The Crowded Grave is a very good mystery, if also a very busy one.
Acknowledgment: Random House provided a copy of The Crowded Grave for this review.
Review Copyright © 2012 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Knopf (Hardcover), August 2011
ISBN-13: 9780307700148; ISBN-10: 0307700143
The Devil's Cave
Knopf (Hardcover), July 2013
ISBN-13: 9780385349529; ISBN-10: 0385349521
Location(s) referenced in The Crowded Grave: France
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The Crowded Grave by Martin Walker — A Mystery of the French Countryside
Publication Date: July 2012
List Price: $24.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
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