In this 14th in Walker's series featuring the French police chief Bruno, an American student turns up dead in the courtyard of an ancient castle in Bruno's jurisdiction. Although her death is assumed to be an accident related to opioid use, Bruno suspects it may have something to do with Monsieur de Bourdeille, the art historian with whom the girl had been studying.
Martin always delivers a live-wire plot, well-realized characters (he’s especially adept at character-revealing scenes), and an incredibly varied setting—this time, he throws in some expertise in medieval falconry. Another winner in an always-strong series.
...this is one of [Walker's] charming mysteries set in the beautiful Périgord region of France and featuring his amiable sleuth ... Walker knows exactly what he’s doing in this series, which artfully seasons its plots with regional lore about the sport of falconry and with lessons in French history, particularly the World War II resistance—all while gently teasing the locals for indulging in 'the French love of ceremony and dressing up.'
Some authors take their time in setting up the crime, lovingly describing step by step as it takes place; others leap right in, beginning their stories with its commission. Walker does them one better. He’s so eager to embroil the reader in the story that he has the crime committed before the story begins, and by the third paragraph of page one, the reader is plunged directly into the investigation ... it brushes aside the extraneous and immediately takes the reader into the investigation and the array of characters and motives with no wasted verbiage ... the usual delightful coterie of Bruno’s colleagues are again present, offering assistance in solving the crime as well as in preparing and eating the usual delightful recipes featured throughout the story.