At the time of writing this review, Children of War is the most recent book in the series. If you note the short time between my review of this book and the first in the series, it will reveal that this has become on of my favorite crime series. Martin Walker has the ability to write characters that are multi-dimensional, likeable, charming and realistic. His most recent installment also proves to be one of his best and shows continued growth in the series.
This time around Bruno is drawn into a web of intrigue that covers Islamic Terrorism, the French treatment of the Jews during the Holocaust, the limits of criminal responsibility and the effects of war and conflict on the young. Early in the book, Bruno is contacted by a former colleague and is advised that a young man has been found in Afghanistan claiming that he is originally from St. Denis, the hometown of Bruno. It is revealed he is the adopted son of a local Muslim family. The young man is autistic and was supposed to be in a specialized school run out of one of the biggest Mosques in France. At his return, many claims are made about this young man that do not fit the character that the town has come to know. His return results in danger to many individuals in St. Denis as it appears that some Islamic Extremists are hunting the young man. The relatively simple matters turns into a matter of national importance as Bruno once again finds himself seconded into the service of the Brigadier.
Lots to Love
The plots in each of the books in this series are complex. They cover multiple storylines and varying topics. In my opinion, this book contains the best and most complex plot yet. It wonderfully explores the damage war inflicts on those who live through it. All of the novels have explored, in part, how war effected the main character Bruno. Much of his life has been filtered through his experience. Beyond this we see how the young man, Sami, is changed by jihadism and Islamic terrorism, a modern war. This is contrasted nicely with a parallel storyline that reveals the details of two Jewish children who were hidden and protected during the Holocaust.
If you are reading this review and you haven’t yet started this series, I strongly recommend you grab the first one and get reading. For every dark element in the book, Martin Walker provides a corresponding elements of light. This results in a serious storyline and serious crime but it is seen through the eyes of characters that have not let this darkness overshadow their lives. The characters are fleshed out and interesting. While there are a few reoccurring elements (the appearance of the Brigadier) most of the growth of characters are relationship rise and fall in an organic manner. The characters seem real and their situations plausible.
This will, without a doubt, be one of, if not the best, series that I discovered in 2015. If you want crime and mystery but don’t want to hand in your soul to get it, I suggest you visit Bruno, Chief of Police.