Somehow I missed the Patriarch by Martin Walker when it came out. I was looking around for something to read, and check to see when the next Bruno Chief of Police novel comes out. I discovered that it came out in June and not only did I miss the release, but I also missed one of the previous books in the series.
It is odd that you can read a series and not notice when you miss a book. And once I finished reading The Patriarch, I am can see why I did not realize that I missed anything. This novel did not really move the story along.
In one of the previous books Bruno saved ‘The Red Countess’, an elderly woman from a historic family that was being drugged to steal her land. The Red Countess invites him to a party for the Patriarch, a national hero of the cold war, a pilot and one of the Countess’s previous relationships.
At the party, which is local and adds in yet another wealthy member of the community, Bruno observes a quiet scuffle between a granddaughter of the Patriarch and her Godfather, the best friend of one of the sons of the Patriarch. Later that day, Bruno is called in to quietly certify the death of the Godfather, who it turns out was a former spy.
Again the connection is a bit too complicated for a small French town. But it works with the formula that Martin Walker has set up for the series. The Patriarch includes some history that has an impact on the modern day. There is the side thread of a community problem that Bruno has to solve through creative negotiation (in this case an unauthorized deer refuge by a local animal rights supporter). And there is Bruno’s love life, which I know the result of before I started the book because I accidentally read the next book first.
As a novel, the thread work fine. As a broader series, it is a perfect example of a series going awry. Bruno is stuck in his life. His desire to settle down and have a family isn’t going anywhere (and the next book is much the same). The small community has gotten much too large to continue in quite the same way that the early books suggested. Walker’s desire to keep the series interesting has continued to add in threads of international relations, terrorism, and organized crime instead of focusing on writing characters that grow and change.
The Patriarch was fine. I read some pretty negative reviews before I started, so my expectations were low. It wasn’t as bad of a book as the negative reviews suggested. Walker still can write and a lot of the elements that I like about the series were still present. But those elements are becoming a bit cardboard. The next book in the series, The Templar’s Last Secret is out. I will read it soon, but my interest in the series has wained.