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Book Review: Black Diamond by Martin Walker

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Black Diamond is the third book in a mystery series by author Martin Walker. Dubbed a mystery of the French countryside, the recent paperback release from Vintage once again features Detective Bruno Courrèges, the only policeman in the small town of St. Denis, in Périgord, a former province of France, now called the Dordogne.

Detective Bruno is not just a smart cop, but a connoisseur of fine wine, food, and the inestimable local black truffles – black diamonds. Perigord truffles are a multi-million euro business and are at the heart of this entertaining mystery. Walker takes readers behind the scenes of the truffle trade, where one may be surprised (or not) to learn that there is a lucrative black market for substituting inferior Chinese truffles for southern France’s local gems.


A murder, a father-son feud, and Bruno’s own romantic complications with British girlfriend Pamela (and a woman from his past) keep the charismatic detective quite busy throughout this mystery. Black Diamond starts off at a leisurely pace, and although Walker includes some exciting scenes and intrigue, the overall feeling one gets from the book is similar to one of the long, multi-course dinners that Bruno is so fond of enjoying or preparing. The mystery and supporting characters are intriguing, but what really makes the story is its love and indulgence of the local setting, and especially its appreciation for fine food and wine.

Walker is the senior director of the Global Business Policy Council, a private think tank based in Washington, D.C. He lives in Washington, D.C. and the Dordogne. In Black Diamond he writes eloquently about such diverse topics as “green” cuisine, local politics, ethnic struggles, and organized crime. Readers familiar with the Dordogne region of southern France or dreaming of a future visit will enjoy following Bruno around St. Denis and its environs (and restaurants). His clever crime-solving is just an added bonus. After reading Black Diamond readers will definitely want to check out or revisit the first two installments of the series.

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