The Children Return by Martin Walker: A review

Easily the best thing about these Bruno, Chief of Police, books is the descriptions of food and wine, the food usually cooked by Bruno and served along with local wines to his friends in long, leisurely meals. There wasn't much of that in this particular entry and I missed those interludes.

This is the seventh book in this series and the plot develops along three parallel paths that finally converge.

The first plot line concerns French Muslims. First, the tortured and murdered body of an undercover Muslim cop in found in the woods around Bruno's town of St. Denis. It develops that the cop had been investigating a mosque in Toulouse that may be a center of jihadist activity. Then it turns out that a local young autistic man who had been sent to a special school at the mosque had gone missing and had ended up in Afghanistan where his special skills had been exploited by the Taliban for making bombs. Now, the young man, Sami, has escaped and found his way to some French troops and is being returned to France.

Secondly, a bequest from a recently deceased Jewish doctor who, along with his sister, had been hidden from the Nazis by a family from St. Denis during World War II, offers the town a possibility of making some much needed civic improvements if they can come up with a proposal that meets the approval of the surviving sister. The sister and her grandson travel to the area to examine the sites where the two children were sheltered during the war and to view the town's proposal.

Third, the town's doctor, Fabiola, is confronted with a dark and humiliating secret from her past which threatens to destroy her fragile new relationship with the journalist Gilles, and their good friends, Bruno and his long-time paramour Pamela, rally round to try to ferret out the secret and to aid the new relationship.

Oh, and if that weren't enough, there's an intriguing American diplomat/FBI agent (a beautiful and accomplished woman, naturally!) thrown into the mix and Bruno is instantly attracted to her. 

How will all these various tales sort themselves out? Well, Martin Walker does manage to weave them all together in the end, but it is not seamless. In fact, it is a bit of a strain. 

Bruno and his puppy, Balzac, are charming characters and the best entries in this series - in my opinion - are strong on the interaction between them and their neighbors and friends, the animals on the farm, and the garden and woods which provides the ingredients for Bruno's gourmet meals. More of that, please!

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


  1. Replies
    1. That's a kind way of putting it. The plot just contained too many different themes. A tighter focus would have helped, I think.

  2. I agree. Two too many threads. Too bad, I like Bruno and his friends.


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