The Templars' Last Secret by Martin Walker: A review

Time to check in once again on Bruno Courreges and his friends. Bruno is the chief of police in the little town of St. Denis in the Dordogne of France. St. Denis is in the middle of an archaeological treasure trove featuring the famous painted caves and that features heavily in the plot of this book.

It is also in the middle of a region of famed French cuisine and Bruno is an avid practitioner of that cuisine, a talented cook who likes nothing better than entertaining his friends with one of his superb meals. That, as always in this series, is also an important part of the plot. 

But Bruno's day job is as chief of police and as such he is called to the scene of a death in suspicious circumstances. The body of a woman has been found at the base of a cliff. She appears to have been climbing the cliff and to have fallen to her death, but was it an accident or was she pushed? There is evidence that at least one other person was present, but that person is nowhere to be found. And it appears the body was carefully posed after the fall. Murder seems the likely conclusion and so Bruno notifies all the relevant authorities in the chain of command of French policing.

There is no identification on the body and no one claims to know her, so the first task for law enforcement will be to identify her and determine what she was doing in the area. To that end, Bruno takes pictures of her face with his cell phone.

Returning to town, Bruno learns from the mayor that an observer has been sent from Paris to follow him around and do a time and motion study of his police techniques. He is appalled at the prospect, but he soon learns that the young woman, Amélie, is an invaluable asset because of her tech-savviness. (Bruno is a Luddite.) In the end, she is instrumental in helping to crack the case.

We soon learn that the dead woman was an Israeli potentially connected to Arab terrorists and that she had been seen in the area with suspicious companions. Law enforcement goes on high alert fearing the possibility that an attack is planned on one of the monuments of the region.

We also learn that the woman herself was apparently searching for an artifact of the Knights Templar that is rumored to be in the Dordogne, possibly in one of the caves. It is unclear if the artifact really exists.

As Bruno's investigation continues, he's also preparing to be the best man at the wedding of two archaeologist friends who are getting married on the weekend.

But regardless of all this, people still have to eat and Bruno can always find time to cook for them. Martin Walker regales us with mouth-watering descriptions of the food that he cooks, all of it from local sources of course and much from his own garden. These meals are always among the highlights of these books for me. 

Although this series is a work of fiction, many of the archaeological and historical facts presented are quite real and certainly provide a feeling of verisimilitude to the stories. Moreover, there are references to current events in France which gives resonance to the tales. The books are essentially light reading and yet I always learn things about history and about France when I read them. That is a tribute to Martin Walker's talent as a writer.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Comments

  1. Unlike here in North America, where meals are simply food to be eaten, a meal in France is an event. A few years ago we stayed with friends who live on the French side of the Pyrenees, quite close to the border with Spain actually, and every meal was both superb and an entire social experience. We didn't start to eat until around 8:00 pm, having first had a couple of apéritifs, and then the meal stretched on until 10:30 or 11:00 pm. There were always multiple courses, and we drank lots of wine. It was really quite wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, yes, I should have mentioned the wine! It flows freely at Bruno's feasts - usually in both red and white vintages.

      Delete
  2. The setting and the (cooking) sounds an integral part of the book. It must be adding so much interest to the real story as well. Thanks for the review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed it is. The description of the meals is one of the main reasons I read these books!

      Delete
  3. This sounds both fun and informative The cooking angle makes the book seem like it is more fun and also unique.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's been a fun series to read. Of course some entries are better than others. This was one of the most enjoyable for me.

      Delete
  4. I will get to this series someday. You always make it sound so appetizing!

    ReplyDelete
  5. This one sounds really good and I love the cooking angle!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is the tenth book in the series and I have enjoyed them all so far.

      Delete
  6. I immediately thought of the Dan Jones comment you'd made on my TTT post. Have you read his Templars book? It's FANTASTIC!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have not. I've read The Plantagenets, The Wars of the Roses, and Magna Carta. Maybe I'll get to The Templars. I'm sure I would enjoy it. He's a terrific writer who can make history come alive.

      Delete
    2. Yes!! The Plantagenets was the first book of his I read and I was done-for. He is my fave historian - though Helen Castor is a close second. Good thing he likes her a whole lot, too. I finished up his Crusaders book a couple months ago and that was superb also.

      Delete
  7. I'd like to get to this series too. My husband has read about 6 of them .... so I must get him more. Hooray for Bruno & France.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a really fun series to read and the food and wine are truly mouth-watering.

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Poetry Sunday: Excerpt from The Cure at Troy by Seamus Heaney

Open Season (Joe Pickett #1) by C.J. Box - A review

Poetry Sunday: Invitation by Mary Oliver