cover image The Coldest Case: A Bruno, Chief of Police Novel

The Coldest Case: A Bruno, Chief of Police Novel

Martin Walker. Knopf, $25.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-525-65667-8

A 30-year-old cold case drives Walker’s agreeable if somewhat unsuspenseful 14th novel featuring Bruno Courrèges, a police chief in France’s Périgord region (after 2020’s The Shooting at Château Rock). Soon after the discovery of the badly decomposed remains of a male in his 20s in a wooded area, J-J, Bruno’s obsessive fellow officer, deduced from the victim’s skull, which J-J personally boiled to preserve, that the man was bludgeoned to death. Bruno now has the idea of using facial reconstruction technology to try to identify the victim. Bruno and J-J’s efforts lead them to a mysterious wine maker and a defunct vocational school that was possibly funded by the Stasi, the East German spy agency. The stakes rise as officials in Paris take an interest in the case. The pastoral pleasures of provincial life, as reflected in the many lyrical descriptions of food and wine, tend to overshadow the detective work, and Bruno’s wise and sterling character stretches credulity, but these are quibbles. Fans of lighter police procedurals will be well satisfied. Agent: Stephanie Cabot, Gernert Agency. (May)