Lead Review

  • Book: The Coldest Case
  • Location: Dordogne
  • Author: Martin Walker

Review Author: Tina Hartas



This is no.14 in the chief of police, Bruno Courrèges – The Dordogne Mysteries series.

The author’s fictional Saint-Denis is located on the River Vézère, somewhere in the quadrilateral formed by the city of Périgeux, and the capital of the Department of the Dordogne. The Dordogne, its countryside, customs and gastronomy, are central to the series.

Although Bruno has suffered a tricky childhood – and in this novel he is reunited with his cousin – he is a cultured and affable soul, with his dog Balzac, a Bassett hound, for company.  He enjoys horseback riding, he cooks and he loves wine connoisseurship. He is not one of the run-of-the-mill tortured and addictive personalities who are part and parcel of so many detective series.

The novel revolves around the ‘cold case’, the historic murder of a young man – called Oscar for lack of any other name – which has fascinated his superior for a good 30 years. In fact he keeps the skull in police department. Bruno happens to be in the museum at Les Eyzies and it dawns on him that delving deeper into his superior’s case, using facial reconstruction, might well be a way to solve the young man’s identity, thereby facilitating the identity of the murderer. There is a lot of fascinating detail about this particular science.

Add in an international dimension, in the form of Stasi files and the CIA, and the author creates a nice mix of strands. Bruno observes the ecological issues in the area, and although he is a keen European, he can see the foibles of some EU policies. And then a fire breaks out, due no doubt to global warming and his solution helps to dampen down the blaze until the proper agencies can get involved. As you can already see, Bruno is a man of many talents and a multi faceted personality. All that is missing is, perhaps, a positive love interest for the dear detective.

This book can be read as a standalone.

If you love the Dordogne and immersing yourself into this part of the country, then you can do no better than diving into this series.

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