I’ve been a Bruno fan from the very first book on. I enjoyed reading so much about himself, his friends and the entire town. For quite a few books, things were developing nicely and Bruno became a favourite of mine.
With this book, this ended.
It all starts interesting enough with the death of an old sheep farmer and his children suspecting foul play when they find out they’ve effectively been disinherited. Bruno promises them to look into the entire issue and does fairly well, using his expertise of rural laws and regulations – I was actually getting my hopes up of getting a real Bruno experience. Like a welcome mixture of…
“Sex, drugs, murder—and cruelty to animals.”
… as Walker puts it at one point.
The mystery that starts out so well, takes a backseat to a confusing tale of an aging rockstar, his adult children, a Russian oligarch, his daughter, the Ukraine conflict and world politics…
“Chateau Rock” reads like Walker is simply trying to boast about his cultural knowledge, e. g. About music and, thus, let’s Bruno, a rural French flic say this:
“He recognized the notes of the Spanish classic Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez. At home, he had a CD of Paco de Lucía playing it on guitar while backed by an orchestra, the delicacy of the guitar against the deep sound of the strings and the sharp counterpoint of the clarinet.”
But, ok, maybe Bruno suddenly developed a taste for Spanish guitar music who knows… Even the previous cooking sessions that used to be lovingly described while showing a self-reflecting Bruno, sometimes even getting a new insight into the investigation, feel forced and are entirely superfluous. They add nothing this time but are page after page of transcribed recipes – not what I’m reading Bruno for.
Isabelle makes her usual cameo appearance but everyone else is severely neglected by Walker: Florence, Gilles, the Baron are all mentioned but play hardly any role at all and even rarely serve as bystanders as they sometimes did in the past.
Even Bruno himself is weirdly unlike himself: Not only does he make several potentially severe rookie mistakes (which, magically, turn out to be non-issues) and he does a few things that make him (rightly!) question himself:
“his self-doubts about his treatment of […]. He knew it was standard police procedure, but it was not the way he liked to work.”
Walker has lost me with this latest instalment in a series I used to love. Very sad.