Books Reviews and Such

To Kill a Troubadour

To Kill a Troubadour is the 15th full length novel in the Bruno Chief of Police series, by Martin Walker. As with each Bruno novel, in To Kill a Troubadour, we return to a delightful world where crime fighting is interspersed with Baguettes, Bassets, and in this case, Balladry.

To Kill a Troubadour Cover
The cover photo for To Kill a Troubadour, the latest novel in the Bruno series.

To Kill a Troubadour Review

The Killers Ernest Hemingway Summar...
The Killers Ernest Hemingway Summary | Detailed

To Kill a Troubadour begins with Bruno receiving a visit from his old friend J.J. Jalipeau, head of detectives for his départmente. He brings with him a bullet for a sniper’s rifle found in an abandoned car.

Over lunch they discuss the possibility that there is a sniper working in the area, and who the potential target might be.

Meanwhile, Les Troubadours, a local music group that have appeared at town festivals that Bruno plans. This time around they have released a song called: A Hymn to Catalonia. Soon, the song goes viral and the next thing you know the Spanish government has banned the song. Threats are being made against the group and the songwriter.

As To Kill A Troubadour unfolds, it appears that the plot against Les Troubadours may be more complex than originally thought. This may not be the work of some disgruntled Catalonian rebels, but perhaps there are darker and more powerful forces at work.

The question becomes will Bruno, and his coworkers be able to unravel the mystery soon enough to prevent the assassination attempt, and the international fallout that will certainly follow?

To Kill a Troubadour, follows a familiar pattern. Bruno’s wish for a quiet, rural policeman’s life is always being overtaken by international events that draw him into broader conflicts.

These are welcome though, in that they bring back into the readers orbit, Isabelle, J.J., General Lannes, and so many other. We are also welcomed back into a world of strong female characters, such as Fabiola, Yveline, and more. Women who command the respect of Bruno and the men around him.

The subplot of To Kill a Troubaadour, involves the release from prison of Casimir, Florence’s brutish ex-husband. He wants to get in touch with Florence and see their children. It appears French law is very much in his favour, and Florence is terrified.

So, while trying to solve a crime with international implications, Bruno also needs to find a way to protect Florence and her two children, while walking a fine line with the French legal system.

If you have followed the series long enough, you know that Bruno has a complicated love life. Along with Pamela, and Isabelle, the reader is forced to consider whether or not Florence, school teacher, computer genius, and single mom may also develop into a Bruno love interest.

I suppose it’s appropriate that an author who attended Oxford, would create a love quadrangle rather than a love triangle. What I found in To Kill a Troubadour is that there seems to be know move toward resolution. This should make it all the more interesting if, or when, a resolution does appear.

As always, no matter how chaotic the world around him is, Bruno always has time for meals with his friends. The Monday dinner is as close to sacrosanct as it can get. In To Kill a Troubadour, we also get to look in on a dinner, where the special forces, sent in to help protect the town, get a break from the usual dreary military rations thanks to Bruno’s hospitality.

Another part of the book I enjoyed was the introduction of Balzac’s pups into the plot. This is a good, natural way to keep connection to characters from previous books. In this case, the singer, Rod Macrae, introduced in The Shooting at Chateau Rock.

Bruno books also delight in the way that Walker blends in current political action along with regional history. I never come away from reading a Bruno novel without a better understanding of the world I live in.

Also, the story deals with misinformation in the media, and the way much of it is manipulated by world powers, in this case Russia. To Kill a Troubadour was likely finished either just before or just after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

However, as you follow the various stories on the internet, it is quite clear that misinformation is definitely a part of the conflict. I will let you decide for yourself which side is most responsible.

Like a lot of novels being currently written, Covid-19 lurks in the background, but doesn’t play a major part. One advantage of the novel is that you can play with time. Plus, you can only write so many words about people taking masks on and off.

Prior to To Kill a Troubadour, my only thoughts on Occitan culture was the chain store, which sells a bunch of stuff I’d never want to purchase. Along with that, I know a little bit about the chain’s founder, through Kim Sunee’s autobiography.

Through this novel, I learned a whole lot more about the region. As well as both the Muslim influence on the area, as well as the influence that Islam had on Western music as we know it.

The one thing in the book that hit as a little difficult to believe was how long it took them to figure out the method of attack. Although there were several red herrings thrown up by the suspects, the possibility of the weapon, should have been considered by a group that contains high-level military and government figures.

That, however, is not something that will in anyway put me off of the Bruno series. I enjoy the way in which the main characters continue to grow. I look forward to the follow-up novel to To Kill a Troubadour, and the publication of the English language version of the Bruno cookbook.

As a rule, I am not a cookbook fan. I do have a few that are connected to specific crime writers and I need to get around going through them and writing them up. I will also need to go and find the remaining Bruno story collections that I haven’t yet read.

By Donald McKenzie

Anglican priest, and food blogger. This blog is focused on Food. It will feature reviews of places to eat books, and the odd recipe. I also write about what it means to gather together around food.