A weekly alert for followers of crime, mystery, and thriller fiction.
The Devil’s Cave, by Martin Walker (Quercus UK):
Satanism has finally called on the village of St. Denis, in France’s Dordogne region. Or at least, that’s the way it appears when the naked corpse of an unidentified young woman floats down the river into the town center, her body flanked on a small boat by two large black candles and her torso inked with a pentagram. Police chief Bruno Courrèges already has plenty of concerns on his plate, notably a domestic abuse case and a highly touted real-estate development project that may be far less agreeable than it seems. He’s also having to negotiate his relationships with two different women--one of whom is off in Scotland, concerned about her declining mother, while the other has arrived in St. Denis, ready to help Bruno keep his crime-clearance rate up and his bed warm. The discovery of satanic ritual remains in a popular local cavern intensifies media interest in St. Denis’ devilish escapades. But as Bruno investigates, he realizes that the “evil” at the root of that woman’s slaying may have more to do with lust and lucre than Lucifer. This fifth novel in Walker’s atmospheric French mystery series (following The Crowded Grave, which has only just been released in the States) shows Bruno, a romantic ex-military peacekeeper with a fondness for good food and wine, to have great staying power as a character. His interactions in these pages with a prominent Communist Party elder, a suspicious hotelier, a long-legged nurse of peculiar influence, and a basset hound pup in need of new digs show the St. Denis copper to be capable of far more than maintaining civility between rival shopkeepers and enforcing parking regulations. The Devil’s Cave is the first Bruno book I’ve read, but it will certainly not be the last.