Thursday, June 14, 2018

A Taste for Vengeance by Martin Walker

First Sentence:  On this cool, damp Sunday afternoon in spring, with clouds and rain showers sweeping in from the Atlantic some sixty miles to the west, Bruno Courrèges had his day off.
With his promotion from being responsible only for St. Denis, to now covering the entire valley and two additional jurisdictions, Bruno is still most involved with the people of his town.  One of his star rugby players could be chosen for the French national squad, except that she is pregnant and unwilling to expose the father's name.   British tourist Monica Felder was coming to St. Denis for a cooking vacation but fails to show up. Her husband can't be reached, and she, along with an Irishman, is found dead.  More than a murder case, the investigation soon goes from murder to possible terrorism. 
The map of St. Denis not only orients one.  It makes one feel part of the village.  The description of the rugby match isn't so much about the game as it is the community and the excitement. 
It is such a pleasure to have Bruno be a policeman who is respected by the townspeople, his colleagues, and his superiors as witnessed by his promotion ceremony.  And being France, there is, of course, food—"They would be eating foie gras with a glass of sweet, golden Monbazillac wine, followed by fresh trout with toasted almonds, accompanied by a white wine from the town vineyards, then cheese and salad, tarte au citron and coffee." 
Walker does a very good job of introducing all the characters and providing background on them.  Bruno's modesty makes him is the type of person one would want to know.  He is one of the most well-developed and well-rounded characters one will find.  He has a military background and is an excellent cook, he fought in a war, but takes pleasure from acting as a crossing guard when the infant school lets out, he rides and hunts, and teaches tennis and rugby to the town's school children, and the list goes on.  Yet Bruno never seems too good to be true as he can make mistakes. 
Walker paints such a wonderful picture of St. Denis, both in terms of the physical description—"The day had dawned clear, still chill from the night with the sun not yet above the horizon. …the rays began to reach him slantwise through the trees, lighting up the first leaves, brilliant in the pure, fresh green of springtime and serenaded by the dawn chorus of the songbirds."—and the barter system between the town's residents—"His friend Stephané, the cheesemaker, kept Bruno in butter, cheese, milk, and yogurt in return for the ducks, chickens, and truffles that Bruno brought him…"  But don't mistake this for a cozy mystery. 
Details of the crime scene and forensics and the information on the victims is very thorough and quite interesting, even for those who are not 'on scene.'  As the story progresses and we learn there is more here than a domestic murder, we learn some history and are reminded both that--"terrorists had their own rules, and that hatred and bigotry are passed down from generation to generation—"…some of the old diehards don't give up and many of them try to raise their kids the same old ways, with the same old songs and legends."
"A Taste for Vengeance" meshed the threads of the story in a way that wasn't anticipated, with danger, suspense, and heroism.  This is a book to be read slowly so as not to miss the details.

A TASTE FOR VEGEANCE (Pol Proc-Chef de Police Bruno Courrèges-France-Contemp) - Ex
      Walker, Martin – 11th in series
      Alfred A. Knopf – June 2018


  1. I like this series very much;. And I agree that Walker paints a vivid picture of the setting. I think his characters are well-drawn, too. Glad you enjoyed this.

  2. Love this series, every book and eager to get this one. I find the history and political points of view informative and interesting. I learn when I read his books as well as find them enjoyable. Will Bruno ever find lasting love and a wife.