by Martin Walker

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Review

When a much more recently killed body, its hands tied behind its back, turns up at an archaeological dig near St. Denis, France, the sole local police officer is called to the scene. Lucky for us, it’s Bruno Courrèges, star of Martin Walker’s Bruno, Chief of Police series. In this fourth novel in the series, Walker continues his enjoyable, complex mysteries that connect small-town French life to larger political and historical issues. Ancient human history discovered on the archaeological dig shows promise of unexpected early human connections. At the same time, however, our long human history of violence continues into the present.

Much of the delight of the novel is in vicariously living Bruno’s life. The Crowded Grave reads as much like a novel of life in small-town France as it does a murder mystery. While liaising with high-level, international law enforcement officers, solving crimes big and small, and doing his best to prevent more deaths, Bruno also cooks amazing meals and savors his vin de noix. He cares for his chickens and rides his horse through the French countryside. He chats with local shopkeepers and coaches the kids’ rugby team. He also hangs out with his beloved basset hound and several love interests.

The Crowded Grave might appeal to anyone who likes a good mystery, good meals, good friends, and international political intrigue. Walker weaves it all in a single, hard-to-put-down book.

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