Seven years ago, my wife and I went to France to visit friends that live live there. We loved France. More than the wonder of Paris, which was incredible, we enjoyed time in the relatively small town that our friends lived in. Walking to get bread in the morning with gardens and old homes and churches on nearly every corner we felt why Europe and US are very different culturally.
Bruno feels very French. He is interested in food and wine (and we hear quite a bit about that.) But he is more interested in the people of his community. This community has adopted him and he loves them.
Bruno is the police chief of a very small community in France. There has been a vicious murder, not only the first murder in recent memory, but one that exposes some of the nasty undercurrents of the community. Bruno has the job of not only solving the murder, but protecting the town from outsiders that have no interest in it.
This is a book that not only celebrates French culture, but small town rural culture. It is a slow meandering mystery interested in the details of life as much as the chase. The community was a clear character of the story, as was small town French culture. I tend to not be a huge fan of mysteries, but I have found a number recently that I have really enjoyed (Back to Murder, Her Royal Spyness, and the Peter Wimsey Mysteries). This was as good if not better than those. I almost would call it a cozy mystery, but it misses a number of traditional markers of that genre. There was real humor and personal relationship in the book. While the mystery was real, it does feel like this first book in a series that now has six books was more about building the characters and setting than the mystery itself.
I am not saying this is not a throwaway book, instead it was one of the better fiction books I have read in a while. I am going to keep to my New Year’s resolution of buying no more than one book a month, but the next in the series is on my short list of books to buy. (I already looked at it is not in Kindle Lending Library, Kindle lendable or in my library’s ebook or audiobook collections.)