Summary: The Children of War, new and old, return to St Denis.
I am an unabashed fan of the Bruno Chief of Police series. This is the seventh book in the series and the first I have had to wait for. The rest of the series I stumbled onto last year and I read through them very quickly.
Bruno is a small village chief of police. Actually the only police officer of the small village. Bruno is more than just a police officer. He teaches children tennis, teens rugby and leads a men’s rugby league and hunting club. He is a presence in the daily life of everyone in the community, from helping to plan celebrations to funerals.
This is a novel of a small town and lately about how the world impinges on the small town.
There are two threads of the story. A young man from St Denis, autistic and Muslim, is discovered in Afghanistan and he wants to come home. Bruno, former military arranges it, which leads to French national Muslim extremists attempting to target the young man before he spills dangerous secrets.
The second thread is about young Jewish children that were hidden in the region during World War II. The book deliberately mixes St Denis’ care for both its Muslim and Jewish residents. The story lines feel a bit forced together, but it is not too bad.
As with all of the Bruno books there is lots of conversation about food and wine. Bruno has to work around systems to care for his people. And as has been true of the recent books, there are chase scenes and people around him die or come close to it. For all of the cozy nature of the books, the violence can be a bit strong.
This story felt a little short and not well rounded as many. The elements were all there, but Walker needs somewhere else to go. He keeps bringing the issues of the world back to St Denis, but it feels forced. The history is interesting. I love all of the people and relationships and especially Bruno’s care of all of those around him. But something needs to shake up the story. There is a hint at the end of something that might work. But we will have to wait until the next book to see if Walker can carry through or not.
Bookwi.se Note: In some regions outside the US this book is titled Children of War, which seems to me to be a better title.