When a woman’s body is found at the foot of a cliff near the idyllic French town of St. Denis, chief of police Bruno Courrèges suspects a connection to the great ruin that stands above: a long-ago Knights Templar stronghold. With the help of Amélie, a young newcomer to the Dordogne, Bruno learns that the dead woman was an archaeologist searching for a religious artifact of incredible importance. And her ties to Islamic terrorists—not to mention the return of an old flame of Bruno’s, who is assigned to work with him on the case—only heightens the pressure to unravel the centuries-old mystery. As Bruno works to connect the tangled threads of past and present, he nonetheless finds time, naturellement, to enjoy the wine, food, and beauty of the Périgord region.
In Walker's deftly plotted 10th mystery starring St. Denis, France, police chief Beno t "Bruno" Courr ges (after 2016's Fatal Pursuit), the small-town cop with a knack for stumbling onto big cases rolls into action when an unidentified woman takes a fatal fall from the ramparts of an ancient fortress, apparently before she could finish painting graffiti there that may relate to the medieval order of the Knights Templar. With a Ministry of Justice observer in tow, Bruno displays brisk competence and amiable perceptiveness as he investigates what becomes a murder case. Prehistoric cave art, Crusader tales, and modern Islamic terrorism all figure into the crime, with each getting expository treatment that can be a little labored, even when written crisply. Series fans will happily note Walker's customary appreciation for local wines, food, and culture, and his bemused explanations of French bureaucracy, though some readers may find the novel's climax, by the prehistoric painted caves of Lascaux, slightly rushed and overheated.
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The Templars' Last Secret
Martin Walker's books take me to a warm, fuzzy place where I can walk through France through his eyes. Bruno is such a wonderful character as are the Folks of St. Denis. I look forward to each and every adventure Bruno undertakes. As a female reader, I simply want Bruno to find relationship happiness. Please keep writing.