An anonymous skull, an unsolved murder, sinister rumors from the Cold War era of espionage—Bruno's investigation into a long-standing cold case finds him caught between an enigmatic winegrower and a menacing Communist organization from the past.
After attending an exhibit on the facial reconstruction of ancient skulls, Bruno wonders if this technology might provide an invaluable clue to a thirty-year-old cold case. But learning the identity of the murder victim is only the beginning.
The investigation quickly turns thorny and leads Bruno to a reclusive vintner, Henri Bazaine, whose education at a vocational school in a formerly Communist region has raised some eyebrows. An inquiry into the defunct school turns up shadowy reports of possible connections and funding from the Stasi, the repressive police agency of the former East Germany. The scrutiny on Henri intensifies once Bruno discovers that he was declared dead thirty years ago and has been living under an assumed name ever since.
The strange case is further complicated as Parisian bureaucrats get involved, hinting that essential diplomatic relations might be at stake. And to make matters even worse, the Dordogne is suffering from an intense summer drought that is sparking fires across the region. But as always, Bruno will keep a cool head through it all--and, bien sûr, takes time to enjoy a sumptuous Périgordian meal!
A 30-year-old cold case drives Walker's agreeable if somewhat unsuspenseful 14th novel featuring Bruno Courr ges, a police chief in France's P rigord region (after 2020's The Shooting at Ch teau Rock). Soon after the discovery of the badly decomposed remains of a male in his 20s in a wooded area, J-J, Bruno's obsessive fellow officer, deduced from the victim's skull, which J-J personally boiled to preserve, that the man was bludgeoned to death. Bruno now has the idea of using facial reconstruction technology to try to identify the victim. Bruno and J-J's efforts lead them to a mysterious wine maker and a defunct vocational school that was possibly funded by the Stasi, the East German spy agency. The stakes rise as officials in Paris take an interest in the case. The pastoral pleasures of provincial life, as reflected in the many lyrical descriptions of food and wine, tend to overshadow the detective work, and Bruno's wise and sterling character stretches credulity, but these are quibbles. Fans of lighter police procedurals will be well satisfied.
Love Bruno and Martin Walker
I love all the Bruno books and this one is as good as it gets.