cover image The Dark Vineyard

The Dark Vineyard

Martin Walker, Knopf, $23.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-307-27018-4

Age-old French traditions collide with global commerce in Walker's lyrical sequel to Bruno, Chief of Police. When vandals attack a secretive research station hidden in the hills near Saint-Denis, Bruno Courrèges, the rural village's only municipal policeman, looks into the matter. Meanwhile, winemaker François Cresseil and the young man he has just adopted, Max Vannes, both die of mysterious causes. Max's seductive Canadian girlfriend; the scion of a rich American winery looking to buy up tracts of fertile land; protesting "écolos"; representatives from a variety of government agencies; and a host of colorful locals all complicate what turns into a murder investigation, which calls on Bruno's tact as well as his shrewdness. Walker evokes his French community's celebrations of wine, food, love, and friendship with obvious affection but without sentimentality. His villagers are no more immune from modern times than the rest of us—they just drink better wine. (July)