When a novel contains a host of classic cars including a Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic, copious amounts of alcohol, murder, sex, the stunning mid-France countryside and the Nazis, it seems to provide everything you could possibly want from a summer poolside novel. Martin Walker’s new Bruno, Chief of Police novel entitled Fatal Pursuit has all of this and more.
For those who aren’t familiar with the series, the novels follow the adventures of Bruno Courrèges, the local detective from St. Denis, a beautiful (fictional) village in the Perigord region. Bruno, like many literary detectives, has an eye for the ladies and a soft-spot for good food and the odd cognac or two.
Fatal Pursuit centres around the search for a Bugatti 57SC Atlantic which went missing during World War Two. The plot encompasses such contemporary themes as money laundering and people-trafficking, and classic vehicles appear throughout as a strong supporting cast. Bruno himself drives a Land Rover, and a classic vehicle rally entices the locals to bring out their various Citroens, Bugattis and Jaguars, amongst others.
As crime novel, the story works really well. Bruno senses something amiss with the seemingly natural death of a freelance historian, and his investigations unearth a web of nefarious activities underpinned by murder and family feuds. Walker ties in clever sub plots, and includes a great twist at the end.
So is this a good holiday novel? It is, as long as you don’t mind suspending your disbelief of certain motoring-specific elements of the plot: the suggestion that a local detective could step successfully straight into the co-driver seat of a national rally competition will annoy some. There’s also a lot of murder, intrigue and other nefarious activity for one tiny rural village- it is all a bit reminiscent of Midsomer Murders at times. But all in all, it is a good book and perfect as a poolside read this summer. So, does Bruno find the Atlantic? We’re not going to spoil the surprise.
Fatal Pursuit, ISBN 9781784294571 is published by Quercus, available from all good booksellers.