Cover Image: To Kill a Troubadour

To Kill a Troubadour

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Member Reviews

A friend of mine introduced me to Chief of Police Bruno Courrèges a few years ago.  I still have several to read, but I could not resist when I saw Martin Walker’s newest novel on NetGalley. Thank you to NetGalley and Quercus for the free Advanced Reader’s Copy. One reason why I enjoy this series immensely is because it is set in France. Many of the novels deal with European Union themes.   
This one in particular deals with a problem that started in Spain, but has connections to France too. A local singing group called The Troubadours has recorded a song, which supports Catalan independence.  Since it has been prohibited by the Spanish government, it has become a huge hit on the internet, or has it really?  
This novel focuses on the race against time to find a sniper whose intention is to disrupt the Troubadours concert that Bruno has organized in his village.  There are tons of threads here with references made to the time that Bruno served in Bosnia as part of the peacekeeping mission for NATO, the Russians working behind the scenes in the US and French elections, Brexit, and more.  Plus there is a secondary plot focusing on a local chemistry teacher who finds out that her ex-husband has been released from prison.  I think this novel was excellent.  I am giving this five stars. 
Bruno is also an excellent cook. Dishes I am still thinking about two weeks later are an apricot fool,a couple of cold tomato soups, and roast boar.   In the afterword, the author indicates that a collection of Bruno’s recipes will be released.  What fun!
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Martin Walker once more gets Bruno, Chief of Police for St. Denis involved in politics, spies, and local mayhem, this time over a French trio who are singing a Catalan song banned by the Spanish government.  Who is bringing in the violence:  the Spanish far right, the Russian disinformation types or locals?  In the meantime, a local mother of two who is a domestic violence survivor may have to cope with her ex spouse who has early release from a prison sentence.  Bruno is defending all the locals from these outside influences with the aid of his sniffer dog and other local friends.  Along with support from Paris and its forces. Great read. Enjoy.
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I’m impressed that Walker has managed to maintain both quality and a sense of newness 15 books into this series. That’s no easy feat, as most mystery series become derivative long before this point. 

That said, I prefer the Bruno books that are more focused on a countryside murder mystery plot than the more political offerings, and this is far more political mystery/thriller than location-based procedural. It’s also largely focused on Spanish politics, which is, of course, not why one buys books set in the France. 

Walker does a good job with weaving a political hot potato into life in St Denis, so this is a preference issue rather than one of quality and one that thus didn’t impact my rating of the book. 

I didn’t love the creepy abusive husband sideline either, but the deft storytelling and the lovely culinary and cultural content is always a delight to read.
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Martin Walker has done it again! Another Brilliant Bruno book.
Every year reading the new Bruno book is always a literary highlight, and this one is no different.

My only request is to include the recipes at the back of the book. However, I will just need to wait for the cookbook to be released.
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Martin Walker has done it again! Another Brilliant Bruno book.
Every year reading the new Bruno book is always a literary highlight, and this one is no different.

My only request is to include the recipes at the back of the book. However, I will just need to wait for the cookbook to be released.
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To Kill a Troubadour is the 15th Bruno pastoral mystery by Martin Walker. Released 9th June 2022 by Knopf, it's 320 pages and is available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately; it makes it so easy to find information with the search function. 

These books are such enjoyable reads. They're full of quirky characters who are intelligent and cultured and lots of good food perfectly described. I always learn lots about food and French cuisine and the region when I read one of these books..

This author is on my auto-read list and this particular book was lovely. I love that the book is redolent with Gallic sensibilities regarding work, food, culture, life, and love. There's always a fair bit of background info and I -always- learn something about paleontology, or food, or wine, or (in this case) cultural politics and language.

The denouement and resolution are satisfying and Bruno once again ties up the loose threads (except possibly of his love life), and he and Balzac and Hector can once again concentrate on the important non-violent aspects of life, love, and wine. 

This was such a fun read and I loved it to bits. Long live Bruno!

Five stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.
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To Kill a Troubadour by Martin Walker.
This was an action packed addition to the series addressing present day issues rather than the past as several books in the series have done. 
I love Bruno, his friends, the dogs, St. Denis, the food and wine. Oh yes, and the horses. 
My only complaint is that I wish Bruno would get over Isabelle and maybe take on Florence and her twins. That ought to be enough of a complication for him.
As always, looking forward to the next book and a return to the Perigord..
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TO KILL A TROUBADOUR by Martin Walker is the latest in the series involving Bruno Courrèges, Chief of Police in the French Périgord (or Dordogne) region. These mysteries involve police investigations combined with local lore and cuisine. In addition to being a wily detective, Bruno is quite the chef and Walker portrays his knowledge of cooking and wines throughout the story. In this selection he also provides important historical information about Occitan, the original local language, and about Eleanor of Aquitaine's role in spreading Islamic scholarship and music. Readers learn much of this from the character Joel Martin; he is a scholar and songwriter whose life is threatened because he has authored a song supporting Catalan independence from Spain. Bruno and his local and national colleagues suspect a sniper threat that evolves into an international plot with possible Russian backing. It's complicated and necessitates quite a bit of background information which slows the pace. Still, TO KILL A TROUBADOUR is suspenseful and a welcome summer escape to the South of France.
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Martin Walker's delightful series about French Chief of police Bruno Courreges is one of the newer series I follow.  It is hard to believe that this is already book #15!  As always, Bruno is surrounded by the denizens of St Denis, many of whom we have come to know, we see some great meals cooked and eaten,and Bruno solves a dastardly crime which would have shattered the peace of St Denis.

If this is your first Bruno book I don't think that should hold you back, I think everything is sufficiently explained.  This is a book to savor and enjoy, but you will find yourself unable to put it down.  If you are missing La Belle France, or hoping to visit, and love a good mystery, this is the book for you.  Now my question is, how to wait for number 16?

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC.
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Can’t take a trip to France?  Martin Walker’s Bruno Chief of Police series will immerse you in the foods and culture of the Perigord.  Bruno returns with all of his friends and his dog Balzac in To Kill a Troubadour.  Joel Martin has written a song reflecting his feelings for Catalonia, which had been seeking independence from Spain.  The song was banned by Madrid, but there is an annual concert planned in St. Denis where Joel and his group will perform.  The discovery that a Spanish sniper may  have come to assassinate Joel brings heightened security to the area.  Bruno must work with both French and Spanish authorities to prevent a disaster.

In the town of St. Denis Florence is a teacher and runs a computer club for the students.  She received a letter from her former husband informing her of his early release from prison and a request to see his children.  He had been incarcerated for killing a man, injuring the man’s wife while driving drunk.  He had also fought police and abused Florence during their marriage, almost causing a miscarriage.  In this close community she has the support of her friends.  Bruno is also doing all that he can to keep Florence and her children safe.

Walker makes his story relevant to today’s news as Joel’s song is followed by a record number of fans.  These numbers were inflated by Russian interference with an aim to cause discord in Europe.  While there is a tension that builds as the concert approaches, it is offset by the support of friendships within the community.  This is a story to savor as you witness the roasting of a boar, wine with friends, a tennis tournament and the local market with its’ crafts and fresh foods.  It will have you looking forward to your next visit to St. Denis.  I would like to thank NetGalley and Knopf Doubleday for providing this book for my review.
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In his fifteenth full-length Bruno mystery, coming out tomorrow, Martin Walker has created a wonderful mix of crime investigation, scrumptious food, Périgordian history, Bruno’s friends and colleagues, and of course, Bruno himself.    And readers also get a healthy dose of Bruno’s basset hound, Balzac, and Balzac’s adorable new pup, “the Bruce”.   

Together, these familiar elements provide a comfortable, almost cozy, background to a not-very-cozy tale, centered on a car accident that may or may not have been an accident, and the shell of a sniper’s bullet in the car that may or may not have been meant to be found.  If the accident is real, it could provide clues to a possible terrorist attack on the local French folk group, Les Troubadours, who have gotten a bit of notoriety on the Internet over their latest tune, Song for Catalonia.   If, on the other hand, the accident was staged, it might be an intentional distraction from the real attack.    Bruno and his crew have to figure out what’s really going on so they can keep Les Troubadours and the local population safe, while simultaneously navigating some very tricky European politics.   

All of which would be enough for a normal mystery.   But in a move which turns out to be sadly prescient, given that author Martin Walker must have finished the book well before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, another key storyline in To Kill a Troubadour revolves around the concerted attempts of the Russian government to divide and weaken the West.  So when Bruno muses, near the beginning of the book, that the idealism of the younger generation, who believe in the “bright and peaceful new world that had followed the Cold War”, might be running up against both the “new challenges of terrorism [and] the old and traditional forces of national ambition”, it feels all too real.  

Still, many of the recent Bruno books have had hefty doses of realism intruding into their almost idyllic Périgord background, and have remained enjoyable.  And To Kill a Troubadour also pulls this dichotomy off well.   On a personal level, if I do have a complaint to make, it’s not about that.  Rather, I wish that the Bruno/Isabelle story arc would conclude one way or another, since to me, the extended angst of that relationship just doesn’t feel in character for Bruno.   I’ve been hoping for a resolution for a while though, so now I just sort of deliberately overlook the dissonance it causes and enjoy (very much) the rest of the book.  

Finally, please keep in mind that I try to limit star-flation a bit, and don’t give many five-star reviews.   So for me, four-stars is a solid “read this book” recommendation.   And my thanks go to the publisher, Knopf and to NetGalley for the review copy.
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Of course the celebration in St Denis isn't going to go smoothly.  Bruno, who is putting together the concert as well as keeping the town safe, finds that he's got a real problem when a song by the Troubadors sets off a firestorm of controversy with the Spanish government and others.  Add to it the fact that Florence's rotten ex is about to be released from prison, There's bad guys and fake news.  But, and this is the reason I like this series. there's a gentle approach to the whole thing and there are terrific descriptions of food.  Don't worry if you haven't read the earlier books because while that will help a bit (because you'll be more committed to the characters), Walker gives enough backstory to get you going.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  Always enjoy the trip to the Perigord!
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I really enjoy the setting and characters for the Bruno series, and this is no different. It was a bit too heavy on the soft stuff, such as the food, and usually that is better integrated into the action. It seemed to slow things down more than usual. Still enjoyed the story!
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The town of St.Denis is gearing up for the Spring concert. Les Troubadours, one of Bruno's favorite folk groups is scheduled to appear. Excitement is dashed when Spain bans one of the group's songs that supports Catalonian independence. While the song goes viral in France, Bruno fears for the group's safety when he puts together the seemingly unrelated pieces of a puzzle.  A wrecked and abandoned car raises concerns following shots heard from a sniper's gun. Time is short and Bruno along with multiple law enforcement and national intelligence agencies must find the sniper quickly.
At the same time a teacher at the local school has been contacted by her abusive husband after he was released from prison. Bruno is enlisted to find a way to protect the teacher and her children.
As he always does, Bruno multitasks while still managing to regularly exercise his horse, spend time with friends and cook mouthwatering meals at the drop of a hat. 
Thanks to NetGalley and Quercus for the opportunity to read the 15th entry in an enjoyable, fast-paced series.
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What a treat each Bruno novel is!  And TO KILL A TROUBADOUR is no exception. Richly atmospheric, with just the right soupcon of suspense,  and--of course--the best food, this is a novel in a series to savor. 

Highly recommended.
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Great to be back in the Perigord with Bruno and his St. Denis townspeople, as always.  Not my favorite in the series (the conflict was a bit too amorphous and the resolution a bit too pat), but still interesting and engaging and informative to see some of today's controversial issues from a different perspective.
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Bruno, Chief of Police is back in the 15th book of a series I always love. (There are also some short stories)
Set in the Perigord region of France, I always find myself looking up villages and locations mentioned as the author includes actual markets, prehistoric sites and lovely villages. I enjoy how these additions to the story add to the atmosphere. Bruno, in this book, is delving into Catalan politics when a possible assassination may ruin an upcoming concert by a well loved local group. The government of Spain has banned one of their songs that celebrates Catalonian history and their bid for independence. With a possible international incident looming, higher ups in the police and National security are drawn in, with Bruno providing the local knowledge. At the same time he’s involved in aiding a close friend, a local high school teacher, when she learns her abusive ex husband is to be released from prison early. The two stories come to a head, and satisfying conclusions all while Bruno and his friends make mouth watering meals together, compete in a tennis tournament, ride their horses, and indulge in Bassett Hounds, all hallmarks of the series that make it so enjoyable. This one does touch a bit more on political issues we’re dealing with today, which I appreciated, it made the book feel current.
Thank you, Martin Walker, for a character I’d love to have cook for me, in a place I’d love to visit, and to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy.
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review "To Kill A Troubadour", the latest in the "Bruno, Chief Of Police" mysteries. Cannot believe that this is the 15th, full length book in the series (there are also a number of short stories which can be read separately or in anthologies).
This time, there are two stories to follow: the potential for a politically-motivated assassination at an upcoming concert by "Les Troubadours", who have just released a song for Catalonia which has caused all kinds of uproar including a ban by the Spanish government; and the release of Florence's abusive husband from prison and the angst that that causes in the small town of St Denis.
As always, interspersed with the plots are some pretty spectacular meals, prepared not only by Bruno, but by other members of the community. I swear, I would weigh 300 pounds if I lived there.
It all begins when Bruno is apprised of the possibility of a political assassination of the songwriter, Joel Martin, who wrote "Song For Catalonia" and is a supporter of Catalan independence and historian of the Occitan. We get quite the history lesson in this book, and it's not wasted as it become part of the main plot.
Along the way, Martin Walker touches on events of the present day including election interference and 'fake news'.
Bruno works hard both in front of and behind the scenes to make sure that Florence and her twins are protected from her abusive ex-husband who has been released from prison on parole (even though by anyone's reasoning this should never have happened). And with spectacular results!
Everything comes to a head around the concert day, and fans of Bruno are not disappointed.
Of course, along the way we meet again many of the characters who have been introduced to us in the course of 15 novels, and we see how they have progressed in their careers - while Bruno is quite happy just being Chief of Police.
The only thing I fine saddening about finishing a new Bruno gook is knowing that I will have to wait a while for another. Highly recommended - but please try and read the series, it's worth the time.
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Take a trip to the Perigord region of France with the series Bruno Chief of Police by Martin Walker.  Bruno is the Chief of Police in St. Denis and he is a former soldier and winner of the Croix de Guerre.  Bruno is a gourmand and excellent cook. He has friends over for regular dinners to enjoy food straight from his garden.  

To Kill a Troubadour has Bruno putting together a concert featuring a band, Les Troubadours, whose members are his friends.  One of the songs the band plays is called A Song for Catalonia.  This song becomes banned by the Spanish government for being inflammatory politically.  Once the song is banned of course it goes viral and the band and its songwriter begin receiving death threats.  When the band recording studio is burned down the threats are taken seriously.  

Can Bruno keep the band safe without damaging relations between Spain and France?  When two extremist Spanish military veterans go rogue in the Perigord region, Bruno suspects they are planning to assassinate the songwriter.  Can he stop the disaster unfolding?   While there is plenty of action in the Bruno mysteries there is also wonderful scenes of daily life in the small towns and villages of the Perigord region.  One of my favorite series for this very reason, I always feel like I have had a vacation after reading one.
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Thank you to NetGalley and to the publisher for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

To Kill A Troubadour was a thoroughly enjoyable read! It gave me some Midssomar Murders vibes, and I enjoyed it. This was my first read of the Bruno series, and I don’t think it will be the last! Highly recommend.
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