*** 1/2 During the early pages of Black Diamond, readers unfamiliar with Martin Walker's French policeman, Bruno Courreges, would be forgiven for thinking that they had stumbled into a set of Peter Mayle charactrs. The genial police inspector loves to cook hearty dishes laced with the truffles he's found in the woods. There is the mad English woman whom he is dating. Walker's characters seem at first to be familiar types, and his evocation of rural France comforting. As the only policeman in St Denis, Courreges is responsible for everything from crowd control to charity collections. So investigating rumors about a truffle scam in the local market while trying to find out who has attacked a Vietnamese family's stall is more or less business as usual. This bucolic town lulls the reader into a sense of security. Because of this it all the more shocking when one of Courreges's friendds is found brutally murdered. In discovering why his friend has been killed in such a cruel way, Courreges has to piece together unsavoury facts from France's colonial past, and call on his contacts in the Secret Service. As he realises that there was more to his friend than he ever thought possible, so it dawns on the reader that Courreges is no bumbling plod but a keen investigator. **** I really enjoyed this mystery and am looking forward to reading more books in this series. I did not realize that this is #3 in the series, so I want to go back to the beginning. Very enjoyable, especially if you are a Francophile.

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