Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Resistance Man by Martin Walker

First Sentence: It as shortly after dawn on a day in the late spring that carried all the promise after summer to come.

When an old French Resistance fighter dies, he is found in possession of old banknotes thought to the robbery of the Neuvic Train during the War thought to be the greatest train robbery of all time. Bruno meets Jacqueline, who is researching a story claiming the US gave clandestine support France’s nuclear program, a fact that would not go over well with upcoming elections. A burglary, committed by thieves who target only items of value, including furniture, art and fine wines, has occurred at the vacation home of British citizen, Jack Crimson. However, this burglary includes murder when the victim’s lover's body is found.

One can appreciate Bruno having more than one case on which to work as it makes it much more realistic and interesting. However, Bruno having a profusion of women in his life can become confusing for him, and for us. Walker is very good at connecting various threads in a rational way. He also maintains the human element by including the personal lives of some of the secondary characters, as well as displays of Bruno’s own empathy and generosity toward others.

Food and wine is a theme throughout the book and the series. It is France, after all. Once you’ve read even one of the books, you’ll join the legions asking Walker for a cookbook as the descriptions, detailed as they may be, just aren’t enough to satisfy—Pamela had brought a Monbazillac from Clos L’Envège, which would go perfectly with the strawberries…He’d put the marinated duck into the oven, sliced some ham…and put a place of ham and his fresh radishes at each setting on his dining room table. Ah added some unsalted butter to each plate and sliced a big round loaf of bread from the Moulin bakery.”

There is an increasing depth to the case, as it becomes one with a far-reaching impact. The information on the structure of French law and the manner of conducting investigations is interesting, as is the history of the Resistance fighters. It is also interesting to come across a scene where a Frenchman has never heard of Paul Revere and must have an explanation given. However, it is the point regarding the importance of a free press and fair elections that truly causes one to pause and consider.

A very painful scene might upset animal lovers, yet it is appropriately and humanely done. This is later followed by a scene of a very personal, painful revelation presented Bruno followed by an interesting contemplation of the options. Walker knows how to reach the readers’ heart and has imbued Bruno with depth and dimension which makes him real and appealing. In describing a funeral, one may find it is not only the fictitious mourner’s eyes that well-up with emotion.

The Resistance Man” is a story with many layers and multiple crimes, with complex, dimensional characters. It’s not so much the crimes, as the people who are the focus and cause this to be a really good read in a wonderful series

THE RESISTANCE MAN (Pol Proc – Comm. Bruno Courrèges – G+
Walker, Martin – 6th in series
Knopf – February 2014

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