THE DEVIL'S CAVE

Written by Martin Walker

Review written by Philip Gooden

His historical novels include the Nick Revill series, set in Elizabethan London, a Victorian sequence, and a series of Chaucer mysteries, now in in e-books.


THE DEVIL'S CAVE
Quercus
RRP: £18.99
Released: 2nd August 2012
Hbk

In an author’s note at the end of The Devil’s Cave, Martin Walker says that the traditions of the Périgord region of France, its cuisine, countryside and characters are the real heroes of the Bruno novels. And, certainly, if you’re reading The Devil’s Cave for a nostalgic reminder of a nice holiday or a glimpse of what seems to be a very attractive way of rural life, then you’ll be well rewarded.

I was less gripped by the mystery aspects of the novel. Like a thick casserole or a potage, there’s a bit of everything in it. An ageing Red Countess or communist aristo, arms dealers from Lebanon, string-pullers from the powerful Paris ministries, dodgy municipal schemers, Satanic black masses and exorcisms, underground passages that were handy for the Resistance fighters, and so on.

It’s obvious early on that almost none of the outsiders, the foreigners, are up to any good, while almost all the inhabitants of the fictitious community of St Denis are good eggs. This is especially true of Bruno Courrèges, the Chief of Police  -  a warm-hearted lover of women and basset hounds, an expert rider and keeper of chickens, and adab hand with an omelette. The story unfolds in a leisurely way, and if not consistently gripping it makes for pleasant holiday reading with its panoramic picture of life in all those Dordogne towns and hamlets.

And I’ll remember for a long time the description of a chicken being roasted while impaled on a half-full can of beer  -  keeps the chicken moist from the inside, apparently. 

 

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