The Resistance Man
A Bruno, Chief of Police Mystery by Martin Walker
Review: It is early summer in St. Denis, and for Chief of Police Benoit Courrèges, Bruno to one and all, it starts off on a somber note as he's called to the scene of a dead man. But it isn't his death that caused his family and the local priest to contact Bruno — the old man was 86 — rather he was holding a Banque de France 1000 franc note in pristine condition, one of just many found in a wooden box, all dated just before the start of World War II, in The Resistance Man, the sixth mystery in this series by Martin Walker.
The family knew of the box, but didn't know of its contents. With the notes as old as they are, they weren't even sure they were legal. As Bruno is preparing to leave, he's called about a burglary at the site of a summer home owned by a foreigner. And it isn't the first such crime of the season. He's resigned to writing up the report himself until he's quickly notified that someone else will be taking over the case. It turns out the owner is actually a British spy. "This burglary may be more complicated than it looks," the Interior minister tells him. And that's not the only complication for Bruno: the old man's banknotes may have once been part of a cache stolen by the Resistance in 1944 in a celebrated train robbery. Though most of the money was spent fighting the Germans, a large amount was never accounted for. Another robbery and another death — this one a murder — keep Bruno busy … but not so busy that he doesn't stop and enjoy a good meal and bottle of wine while investigating his town's latest crime spree.
First time readers will likely be taken in by the complex plot and richly drawn small French town setting of The Resistance Man. But those familiar with the series may not be quite as enthralled with the author's increasingly formulaic approach to these mysteries that feature multiple — far too many — subplots; a large cast of characters, many of which seem to say and do much the same things from book to book; and a rush to tie everything together (in an often tenuous manner) towards the end. The individual stories are, to be sure, interesting, well-crafted and do have merit, as do many of the recurring characters and most particularly the setting of St. Denis and its environs, but everything seems to be carefully worked into an overused template here, one that sufficed for a book or two (or three) but one that now seems in need of a refreshing update.
Acknowledgment: Random House provided a copy of The Resistance Man for this review.
Review Copyright © 2014 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
The Devil's Cave
Knopf (Hardcover), July 2013
ISBN-13: 9780385349529; ISBN-10: 0385349521
Location(s) referenced in The Resistance Man: France
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The Resistance Man by Martin Walker — A Bruno, Chief of Police Mystery
Publication Date: February 2014
List Price: $24.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
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