Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Devil's Cave by Martin Walker

First Sentence:  Bruno Courrèges seldom felt happier about the community he served as chief of police than when standing at the rear of the ancient stone church of St. Denis, listening to rehearsals of the town choir.
The body of a naked woman floating down the river in an old boat is not a common sight in St. Denis.  Marks on her body and items in the boat lead to rumors of Satanism.  Connections begin to be made and other deaths occur and suspicions of fraud arise with people even trying to ensnare Bruno in their net.
Spring has arrived in small community of St. Denis and you are immediately drawn into the story in a way that takes you from the beatific and sacred, to the profane.  Walker’s wonderful descriptions of both the setting and foods—including beer-can chicken, make one feel a part of the scene and the story.
Bruno is such an appealing character; you can’t help but like him.  He is loyal to his community and has become part of it.  It knows its residents and takes a personal interest in them and the challenges they face.  He is ethical and principled with refreshingly good relationships with his boss and his counterparts.  His past gives him strength, skills and toughness.  The fact that he also loves animals, demonstrates his empathy and compassion.  His relationships with women are also interesting, especially as he is a man cast into, what is often, the situation of a woman.
Walker’s plotting has an interesting style.  The story starts off quite simply but, rather like a magnet, other elements are drawn in as the story progresses.  Rather than make the story too complicated, they add depth and interest to the story.  Best of all, the pieces fit together in a logical, occasionally humorous, manner until the full picture is revealed.  His pacing is so well done.  With the introduction of new threads and characters, comes added tension until you reach an exciting climax, with another and another, without it seeming contrived.
The Devil’s Cave” is a wonderful combination of great characters, wonderful descriptions, fascinating historical information, and an excellent police procedural allowing us a look at the way in which the various branches of the French justice system work together.  

THE DEVIL’S CAVE (Pol Proc-Chief of Police Bruno Courrèges-St. Denis, France-Contemp) – VG+
Walker, Martin – 5th in series
Knopf, 2013


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