Monday, April 27, 2015

The Children Return: A Bruno Chief of Police mystery by Martin Walker

  • ISBN-10: 0385354150 - Hardcover
  • Publisher: Knopf (April 28, 2015), 336 pages.
  • Review copy courtesy of the Amazon Vine Program.

The blurb:
When an undercover agent tracking domestic jihadists is found murdered, it’s troubling enough for Bruno’s beloved village. But when this is followed by the return of Sami, a local autistic youth thought lost to Islamic extremism, provincial St. Denis suddenly becomes a front line in the global war on terror. Abducted and exploited for his technological genius in Afghanistan, Sami has used his talents to gather invaluable stores of al-Qaeda intel—but as an international tribunal descends to begin an exhaustive debrief, it becomes clear Sami’s former handlers are far from ready to relinquish him. Now the same jihadists who killed the agent aim to silence Sami, and as the eyes of the intelligence world turn toward his case, Bruno must scramble to track down the terrorists before they exact their own justice. 

As if things aren’t complicated enough, Bruno finds himself contending with the mixed, alluring signals of one of the high-ranking U.S. intelligence officers on Sami’s case, even while juggling the affections of his neighbor and sometime lover. Add to that a member of the tribunal with dangerous skeletons in his closet, the mysterious history of two Jewish siblings who claim to have been sheltered locally from the Nazis during World War II, and a high-profile philanthropist whose presence in St. Denis seems to be attracting attention from the jihadists, and it’s all almost enough to absent Bruno from the village’s wine festival. 

With international intrigue and action aplenty, Children of War is a journey to St. Denis that readers won’t soon forget.

Review:The Children Return had previously been released under the title "Children of War". Bruno is the chief of police in St. Denis, a small country town in South Central France. Bruno is the sort of police chief that knows the residents of his area, he coaches their soccer teams, arranges to help during times of personal misfortune, follows the spirit of the law more than he complies with the regulations and forms required by the National Police. He's developed a sterling reputation as an effective detective and has won the respect of his colleagues even on the national level. I discovered the series a few years ago, loved it, and read every book in the series within a few weeks. Bruno is deeply likable - he cares deeply about the people in his town and those that he encounters. He's very involved in St Denis from coaching soccer, helping with the harvest, cooking for events and friends - Bruno draws you to him and into the story.

In The Children Return, there are children of war from different periods and different wars who return to St Denis. First, there is a bequest for the building a memorial from a wealthy Parisian Jew who had escaped the Nazis during WW II. Second, there is Sami, an autistic Muslim boy, who wants to return to France after working with jihadists in Afghanistan. There is uncertainty as to whether Sami can be trusted.

Bruno approaches the issues with his characteristic kindness and sensitivity. Bruno's personal life plays an important part of these novels as we enjoy reading about the wonderful meals that he prepares as well as the ups and downs of his complicated love life. While Bruno's athletic, good looking, etc. he's looking for a long term partner. The fact that the women he falls in love with seem to want to keep their independence and distance makes Bruno even more attractive.

About the Author:

Martin Walker is a senior fellow of the Global Business Policy Council, a private think tank for CEOs of major corporations, based in Washington, D.C. He is also editor in chief emeritus and international affairs columnist at United Press International. His six previous novels in the Bruno series are Black Diamond; Bruno, Chief of Police; The Crowded Grave; The Dark Vineyard; The Devil’s Cave; and The Resistance Man, all international best sellers. He lives in Washington, D.C., and the Dordogne.