cover image Black Diamond

Black Diamond

Martin Walker. Knopf, $24.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-307-70014-8

Gallic charm suffuses Walker's third mystery of the French countryside (after 2010's The Dark Vineyard). Bruno Courr%C3%A8ges, the engaging do-gooder police chief of St. Denis in the P%C3%A9rigord region, likes to hunt for truffles with his basset hound, Gigi, and his mentor, Hercule, a retired intelligence agent with ties to Southeast Asia. Hercule's savage murder thrusts Bruno into a boiling conflict between France's Vietnamese refugees and the Chinese mob now rapidly surpassing them in France's underworld. Walker deftly seasons this complicated criminal m%C3%A9lange with the multimillion-dollar truffle trade and the rowdy Green threat to St. Denis's traditional way of life, adding savory soup%C3%A7ons of Bruno's romances past (Isabelle of the Police Nationale), present (exotically English Pamela), and possibly future (needy single mother and research chemist Florence). Like the aroma of amateur chef Bruno's venison stew, which virtually leaps off the pages, Walker's unmistakable affection for the "enchanting P%C3%A9rigord" makes every morsel of this cozy%E2%80%93cum%E2%80%93crime novel a savory delight. (Aug.)