by Martin Walker

Reviewer Rating:


Black Diamond is the third installment in a mystery series set in the South of France.  Penned by Martin Walker, the U.S bureau chief for The Guardian, the series revolves around the exploits of Benoit "Bruno" Courreges -- gourmand, amateur truffle hunter, and small-town chief of police.

As  the novel opens, the sleepy village of St. Denis is electrified by the mysterious son of a prominent family who arrives with political ambitions and plans for a new biodynamic restaurant.  Not long after, the town is rocked again by a series of attacks on restaurants and food stalls owned by Vietnamese and Chinese immigrants and the murder of a renowned truffle expert and Bruno's close, personal friend. Bruno's investigation uncovers far-reaching corruption in St. Denis's booming truffle market that points back toward France's colonial legacy in Vietnam.  Along the way he rekindles an old romance and makes the ultimate truffled cassoulet in honor of his departed freind's memory.

Black Diamond is an enjoyable, easygoing police procedural that also provides a number of rigorously researched historical details.  Bruno and the town of St. Denis are charming and memorable and I will be pleased to return to them again in the future. The novel's pacing is sometimes uneven and Walker's journalistic prose can feel uninspired, but his vivid descriptions of food and cooking let you know where his true talent lies. 

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