Wednesday, March 4, 2015

THE CROWDED GRAVE by Martin Walker

Martin Walker’s The Crowded Grave ended in a way that broke my heart.

In the book’s prologue, St. Denis Chief of Police Bruno Courrѐges dresses for a formal ceremony to honor a fallen hero.

Bruno and his fellow officers defy orders to cover up a Basque separatist group’s murder of Brigadier of gendarmes Jean-Serge Nѐrin. The government wants his heroism swept under the rug.

But Bruno breaks the rules.

In a sense, that’s the whole story--Bruno breaks the rules.

As Bruno works to identify a more recent body found in an archaeological dig, as he tries to circumvent (and then save) the new magistrate, as he tries to defend local farmers against what he sees as misguided PETA attacks, Bruno breaks the rules.

There are few books like the Bruno books. They are complex. (To know what was going on, I had to look up and read about the Basques.) But they are totally human.

Bruno loves his women with a sort of confused gusto. He cooks meals so wonderfully described that they are recipes in themselves. And he is loyal to St. Denis and its people.

Bruno is incensed when he comprehends that the French government has used St. Denis as a site to entrap Basque terrorists. The decision puts St. Denis and its people at risk.

Bruno loves St. Denis.

And that brings me to the closing. But I won’t say much about the closing except to say it broke my heart.

Martin Walker’s Bruno books are special, and The Crowded Grave was no exception.

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