The Devil's Cave
A Mystery of the French Countryside by Martin Walker
Review: It is Spring in St. Denis and the town is making preparations for Easter. But Chief of Police Benoît "Bruno" Courrèges' attention is drawn to the river, where the body of a woman has been found in a drifting boat, in The Devil's Cave, the fifth mystery in this series by Martin Walker.
The unidentified woman's body is marked with a pentagram drawn in waterproof ink. Also found on the boat are other elements that may be associated with the occult, including a black candle and beheaded chicken. Some are quick to label the woman a "witch", but Bruno takes a more measured view: could this simply be misdirection on the part of a clever killer? Separately, there are plenty of other distractions for Bruno not the least of which is vandalism at a local tourist site, Devil's Cave, so called due to the mysterious smoke that emanated from it, as if from the fires of hell. The newspapers are quick to link the cases: "The Devil Rides Again in St. Denis".
The Devil's Cave is typical of the series (to date) in that it combines far too many subplots into the story. This is indeed a very busy mystery — though from a historical standpoint, a rather interesting one, too — and while most of the plot points are eventually linked, it's still a bit overwhelming for the reader. A visit to St. Denis shouldn't be this exhausting. In some respects, the opening murder is, as Bruno suspected, misdirection but not in a typical crime novel way. There is, to be sure, plenty of Bruno's personal life on display here, the wine, food, and women that contribute to his well-being. And the French countryside is, as always, a character in and of itself, beautifully drawn and captivating in its own way.
Acknowledgment: Random House provided a copy of The Devil's Cave for this review.
Review Copyright © 2013 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
The Crowded Grave
Knopf (Hardcover), July 2012
ISBN-13: 9780307700193; ISBN-10: 0307700194
Location(s) referenced in The Devil's Cave: France
— ♦ —
The Devil's Cave by Martin Walker — A Mystery of the French Countryside
Publication Date: July 2013
List Price: $24.95
— ♦ —
Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
Mysterious Reviews is a Division of
The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books
and a Business Unit of the
Omnimystery Family of Mystery Websites