Thursday, February 19, 2015

BLACK DIAMOND by Martin Walker

Black Diamonds are rare, expensive truffles.

Martin Walker’s Black Diamond involves a plot to defraud one of France’s truffle markets. St. Denis Chief of Police Bruno Courreges investigates the market and the people in it.

Prior to that Bruno oversees the closing of St. Denis’ major industry, the sawmill. He stops a near riot.

He watches the mill owner and the owner’s son continue their lifelong feud. He learns that both of them plan to run for mayor of St. Denis against Bruno’s patron, the present mayor.

Afterward Bruno and a hunting friend find the brutalized body of Hercule Vendrot. Vendrot is the one who taught Bruno where to find and how to raise truffles.

Vendrot has connections with the Vietnam war, the Algerian war, and the French secret service.

All this leads Bruno into the middle of a murderous fight between Vietnamese and Chinese gangs seeking to take control of lucrative French outdoor markets and the restaurants they serve. And that leads to something more terrible yet.

Still, this book is not plot heavy.

Black Diamond has well-written descriptions of the countryside, a long play-by-play of a hard-fought Rugby game, and an almost recipe-like description of the meal at the wake for Bruno’s good friend.

Bruno continues to try to find love. He continues to be loyal to St. Denis, to refuse to seek greener pastures.

He continues to be Father Christmas at the annual St. Denis community Christmas celebration. And he continues to help the people of the village of St. Denis in large and small ways.

Martin Walker’s Bruno Chief of Police mysteries are among the most well-written and authentic books I read.

If you are looking for well-plotted, setting-and-character-heavy mystery stories, I suggest you try Bruno, Chief of Police.

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