The Devil's Cave (Bruno, Chief of Police Series #5)

The Devil's Cave (Bruno, Chief of Police Series #5)

by Martin Walker


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The sixth installment in the delightful, internationally acclaimed series featuring Chief of Police Bruno.

It's spring in St. Denis. The village choir is preparing for its Easter concert, the wildflowers are blooming, and among the lazy whorls of the river a dead woman is found floating in a boat. This means another case for Bruno, the town’s cherished chief of police.
With the discovery of sinister markings and black candles near the body, it seems to Bruno that the occult might be involved. And as questions mount—most notably about a troubling real estate proposal in the region and the sudden reappearance of an elderly countess—Bruno and his colleagues are drawn ever closer to a climactic showdown in the Gouffre de Colombac: the place locals call the Devil’s Cave.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345804792
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/08/2014
Series: Bruno, Chief of Police Series , #5
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 87,701
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Martin Walker is senior director of the Global Business Policy Council, a private think tank for CEOs of major corporations, based in Washington, D.C. He is also editor-in-chief emeritus and international affairs columnist at United Press International. His four previous novels in the Bruno series are Bruno, Chief of Police; The Dark Vineyard; Black Diamond; and The Crowded Grave, all international best sellers. He lives in Washington, D.C., and the Dordogne.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1
Bruno Courrèges seldom felt happier about the community he served as chief of police than when standing at the rear of the ancient stone church of St. Denis, listening to rehearsals of the town choir. Unlike the formal ceremonies at Mass when the singers dressed in neat white surplices, the choir practiced in their normal dress, usually gathering immediately after work. But Father Sentout’s daring decision that the choir should reach beyond its usual repertoire to attempt Bach’s St. Matthew Passion had required some additional rehearsals early in the morning. Farmers stood alongside schoolteachers and accountants, waitresses and shopkeepers. These were people Bruno knew, wearing clothes he recognized, and usually singing hymns that were familiar, perhaps the only memory of his church orphanage that still gave him pleasure.
On this Saturday morning two weeks before Easter, the twenty-four choristers were mostly in casual clothes, and the front pews of the church were filled with coats and shop-ping baskets they would take to the town’s market, about to get under way in the street outside. As he entered the twelfth-century church, Bruno heard the first notes that led into the chorus of “Behold Him as a Lamb.” The noises of the street seemed to ebb away behind him as Florence’s pure soprano voice filled the nave. He knew there should be two choirs and two orchestras, but St. Denis made do with its trusty organ and the enthusiasm of its singers plus, of course, the determination of Father Sentout, whose love of choral music was matched only by his devotion to the pleasures of the table and the for-tunes of the local rugby team. It made him, Bruno thought, an entirely suitable pastor for this small town in the gastronomic and sporting heartland of France.
The early morning sun lifted above the ridge to the east of St. Denis and flooded the top of the stained-glass window. Shafts of blue, gold and red lanced into the body of the church. Father Sentout’s black soutane stood out against the roseate glow that now suffused the choir. Bruno’s eye was drawn irresistibly to Florence, dressed in white with a bright red scarf at her throat. Her head was raised as she sang alone, knowing the music too well to need to look at her score. Her fair hair was lit by the sunlight into something almost like a halo.
It had been one of his better moves, Bruno thought, to have found Florence the job of science teacher at the local collège. The post brought with it a subsidized apartment on the collège grounds, more than big enough for a divorced young woman and her infant twins. She was a fi ne addition to the life of the town and particularly to the choir. Father Sentout might not have dared attempt the St. Matthew Passion without her. For the first time, she seemed to notice Bruno standing in the nave. Her face softened into a smile, and she nodded to acknowledge his presence. Other choristers raised their hands in greeting. Bruno felt the familiar trembling at his waist as his mobile phone began to vibrate. Reluctantly, he slipped outside to take the call.
“Bruno, it’s Marie,” he heard. She ran the Hôtel de la Gare beside the railway station, now unmanned to cut costs on rural lines in order to finance the massive investment in high-speed trains. “I’ve been asked to pass on a message. Julien Devenon says there’s a naked woman in a boat drifting down the river. He says he saw her from the railway bridge as he walked along the line.”
Her voice sounded strained. Bruno thought of Julien, just entering puberty, transfixed by the sight of a naked woman. But this was troubling. Despite the spring sunshine, this was no time for sunbathing; not even for the Dutch, German and Scandinavian tourists who seemed to discard their clothes at the slightest opportunity.
“He gets the train to his lycée in Périgueux,” Marie added. She paused and her voice took on a deeper note. “He thought she was dead.”
“Is Julien still there?” Bruno pictured the boy’s eager face as he trotted out for rugby practice.
“No, he had to catch his train. He would have called him-self, but his dad had confiscated his phone.”
There would be a story behind that, Bruno thought.
“So when did he see this boat? Was it just in the last few minutes?” Bruno tried to calculate how long a boat drifting downstream might take to reach the great stone bridge at St. Denis, probably the nearest place he’d be able to intercept it and bring it ashore.
“He said he ran to tell me and the train was just leaving with him as I called you. So maybe three minutes ago, not much more.”
Bruno ended the conversation and darted up the rue de Paris, dodging between the market stalls and unloading trucks. He brushed aside the outstretched hands and proffered cheeks of the men and women he usually greeted twice each week on market days. He ducked under bales of cloth, dodged trolleys laden with fresh vegetables and skirted men carrying giant wheels of cheese on their heads as he made for the town square and the bridge. Just as he reached it his phone vibrated again, and this time it was Pierrot, the town’s most dedicated fisherman.
“You’re not going to believe what I’ve just seen in the river,” he began.
“A naked woman in a boat. I heard already. Where are you exactly?”
“By the campsite, where the bank is high. There’s a bend in the river there and the trout—”
“How fast is the river moving that boat?” Bruno interrupted.
“Five minutes and it will be at the bridge, maybe a bit more,” Pierrot said. “It’s pretty waterlogged. One of those old fl at-bottomed boats, haven’t seen one for years. Thing is, Bruno, she’s lying on her back, naked as a worm, arms out-stretched. I think she’s dead.”
“We’ll find out. Thanks, Pierrot,” said Bruno, closing his phone as he reached the stone bridge. He looked upstream, blinking against the dazzle of the sun on water. There was no sign of a boat, so he had a little time. He punched the autodial for the medical center into his phone and asked for Fabiola.
“She’s not on today,” said Juliette at the reception desk. “Something about a private patient, which I never heard of before. I’ll put you through to Dr. Gelletreau. He’s on call today.”
“Don’t bother,” said Bruno, talking as he walked briskly back to the church, ducking and weaving through the obstacle course of market stalls. “I don’t have time to talk. Just tell the doctor to get to the stone bridge where it looks like we might have a dead body floating downstream. I’ll meet him there.”
He needed Antoine, with a canoe, and Antoine was in the choir. He slipped in through the small portal that was cut into the huge wooden doors and was rocked by the sheer volume the choir was now generating, one half singing “See him!” and the other half replying “Whom?”
Just before Florence could soar into the solo “O Lamb of God Most Holy,” Bruno strode forward to tap Father Sentout on the shoulder. The choir stopped raggedly, uncertain, but the organ notes swept on, and Father Sentout opened his eyes, blinking in surprise at the sight of Bruno.
“I’m sorry, Father, it’s an emergency,” said Bruno, his voice loud to carry over the organ. “There could be a life at stake. I need Antoine most urgently.”
The organ music stopped with a dying wheeze from the pipes.
“You want my Jesus?” the priest asked, uncertainly.
Bruno swallowed hard, trying to comprehend the meaning of the question. Then he remembered that Antoine was singing the role of Jesus.
“He’s a waterman and there’s a body floating down the river,” Bruno said, speaking to the choir as much as to Father Sentout. “A woman, in a boat.”
“I don’t have a canoe nearby,” Antoine said, striding down from the apse and picking up a jacket from the front pew. A burly man, he had wide and powerful shoulders from a lifetime of paddling and manhandling canoes. “My canoes are all back at the campsite today.”
“I’ll need you anyway,” said Bruno. He led the way through the thickening market crowd and back to the river, suddenly aware that most of the choir seemed to be following, along with Father Sentout.
Passersby and some of the stallholders looked up at the swelling line behind Bruno, and with the automatic curiosity that draws a crowd when people sense a drama unfolding they joined behind. Soon they were clustering at the side of the bridge as Bruno and Antoine spotted the vessel they were expecting tracing lazy circles as it drifted with the current.
“It might get caught up on the sandbank,” said Antoine. “Otherwise we’d better get down to my campsite and take out a canoe, tow it ashore.”
“Could I wade into the river and catch it here?” Bruno asked.
“Better not,” said Antoine, demonstrating why Bruno had been right to interrupt the choir and summon the boatman. “See that current where it comes through the first arch of the bridge? That’s the deep channel. You’d be up to your neck or even deeper. You wouldn’t have the footing to drag it ashore.”
More and more of the townsfolk were gathering on the bridge, craning their necks to watch the boat draw steadily nearer. Among them, camera at the ready, was Philippe Delaron from the photography shop, who doubled as the local correspondent for SudOuest. Bruno groaned inwardly. A ghoulish newspaper photo of a corpse in a boat was not the image of St. Denis that he or the mayor would seek to portray.
“It’s a punt,” said Antoine, surprise in his voice. “I haven’t seen one of those in a long time. They used them for hunting wildfowl in the old days before they built the dams upriver, when we still had wetlands with the flooding every spring.”
“Should we head for your campsite and get the canoe?” Bruno was eager to do something.
“Better wait and see if it gets through the current around the bridge,” said Antoine, lighting a yellow cigarette, a Gitane Maïs. Bruno had forgotten they still made them. “If it founders, there’s no point. And it might still get stuck on the sandbank. If it doesn’t, I’ve got an idea. Follow me.”
Antoine thrust his way back through the crowd and down the steep and narrow stone steps that led from the bridge to the quay where the annual fishing contests were held. Three fishermen sat on their folding stools, each watching his own float and casting the occasional sidelong glance to see if his neighbors were having better luck. None of them seemed to pay much attention to the crowd on the bridge.
“Patrice, can you cast a line into that drifting boat and see if you can pull it into the bank?” Antoine asked the first of the anglers.
Patrice half turned and eyed Antoine sourly. He mumbled something through closed lips.
“What was that?” Bruno asked.
Patrice opened his mouth and took out three wriggling maggots from where he’d kept them under his tongue. It was something Bruno had seen the baron do when they went fi shing. Maggots were sluggish in the chill of the morning, and a devoted fisherman would put some in his mouth to get them warm and energetic enough to attract fish once they were on the hook. It was one of the reasons Bruno knew he’d never be a real angler.
“I’ll lose my bait, could lose a hook and line,” Patrice said, putting his maggots back into the old tobacco can where he kept his bait. He paused, squinting against the sun. “Is this your business, Bruno?”
Bruno outlined the discovery to Patrice, a small, hunched man, married for forty years to a woman twice his size with a loud and penetrating voice to match. That probably explained the amount of time he spent fishing, Bruno had often thought.
“I’d try it myself, but you’re the best man with a rod and line,” Bruno said. He had learned back in his army days that a little flattery was the easiest way to turn a reluctant conscript into an enthusiastic volunteer.
Across the river, a white open-topped sports car with sweeping lines raced around the corner of the medical center to the bank where the trailers parked. It braked hard and stopped, wheels spitting up gravel. A fair-haired young man climbed out dressed as if for tennis in the 1930s. He wore a white sports shirt and cream trousers with a colorful belt and ran toward the riverbank shedding his shirt. He paused on the bank to remove his white tennis shoes.
“The guy’s crazy,” said Antoine, spitting out his cigarette. “He’s going to dive in.”
Behind him another figure stepped gracefully from the car, a woman with remarkably long legs, dressed in black tights and what looked like a man’s white shirt, tightly belted with a black sash. Her face was pale and her hair covered in a black turban. The way she moved made Bruno think of a ballerina. She advanced to the bank beside the fair-haired man, and they looked upriver as if trying to assess when the punt might be in reach. The man began wading into the shallows as Bruno called out to him to stop.
Patrice had his line out of the water. He had removed his bait and fl oat and was fixing his heaviest hook, looking up every few seconds to watch the speed of the punt’s approach.
“I’m ready,” he said. “Stand aside and don’t get behind me. This will be a hell of a cast.”
Standing at the riverbank, Bruno could see nothing of the dead woman. But something close to three feet tall and black was standing up in the punt, almost like a very short mast. Antoine shrugged when Bruno asked him what it might be.
The punt’s corner seemed to catch on the edge of the sandbank, and it slowed and turned as if heading for the far bank. Bruno heard cheers and whistles coming from the crowd on the bridge as the young man plunged deeper, assuming that the shallows ran all the way to the sandbank. They didn’t, and he sank beneath the surface, then rose, shaking his head and striking out for the punt in a powerful crawl.
But some eddy or wayward current caught the vessel and pushed it free of the sandbank and into the deeper, faster cur-rent where it begin drifting toward Bruno’s side of the bank. Patrice tensed, lifted his rod over his head and cast high and far. Bruno watched as the line snaked out and the hook and sinker landed just on the far side of the punt, and held.
“Got it,” said Patrice, almost to himself.
The man in the water suddenly stopped. He must have reached the sandbank. He stood and staggered across it to where the punt was fast moving out of his reach and launched himself into a desperate, flailing dive almost as if he wanted to land inside the punt itself. One hand landed hard on the fl at rear corner, and the punt rocked so that water slopped over its side.
“The stupid bastard’s going to sink it,” said Antoine.
As the punt tipped toward him, Bruno caught a glimpse of the woman, her fair hair glinting gold in the sun, her arms outstretched and her head lolling as the vessel rolled. Some-thing else inside the boat flashed a bright reflection, possibly a bottle. There seemed to be some marking, perhaps a large tattoo, on the woman’s torso. Whatever stumpy mast had been rising from the boat had now fallen.
The swimmer sank beneath the water, his hand slipping from the wood. Patrice gently began to apply pressure to guide the punt toward him. But like some whale leaping from the sea, the swimmer launched himself up again for a final, despairing effort. His hand just touched the side, but his grip failed, and the punt rocked even more as he plunged back down into the river.
The woman on the far bank strode back to the car, started the engine and swiftly turned the car to leave. She left the motor running as she climbed out, taking a towel from the backseat, and hurried down to the bank to help the swimmer.
“The damn fool broke my line,” said Patrice, spitting in disgust. The punt gathered speed as it moved into the deeper current and headed for the bridge. “That’s my best hook gone and no time to tie another. There’s no more I can do for you, Bruno.”


Excerpted from "The Devil's Cave"
by .
Copyright © 2014 Martin Walker.
Excerpted by permission of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Reading Group Guide

The introduction, discussion questions, and suggested further reading that follow are designed to enhance your group’s discussion of The Devil’s Cave, the fifth novel in Martin Walker’s acclaimed Bruno series.

1. What makes Bruno such a likable protagonist? What are his most appealing qualities? What attributes help make him such a good detective? In what sense is Bruno a hero?

2. Early in the novel, Father Sentout, worried that the dead woman found in a boat has been the victim of a Satanism, asserts “They are forever at war within us, God and Satan, and our souls are never in greater danger than when we forget that” [p. 72]. Does the novel bear out his belief in this inner conflict between good and evil? Or are the crimes the novel explores simply a matter of greed and lust, which can be explained in purely secular terms?

3. After Junot’s suspicious death, Bruno acknowledges that “If he had a murder, or even two, he had no obvious motive for either one. He had some proof and plenty of suspects but no chain of logic to bind them together into any kind of coherent explanation for the deaths of Athénaïs and Junot, let alone connect them” [p. 256]. How does Bruno get from this state of almost total bafflement to solving the murders? What is the chain of logic that connects the murders?

4. Though The Devil’s Cave is at times a fast-paced thriller, it frequently slows down and luxuriates in the details of daily life in the small town of St. Denis. What do the many passages about cooking, horses, basset hounds, and so on, as well as Bruno’s romantic life, add to the novel?

5. How is Bruno regarded by the community of St. Denis he serves? How does he regard his role in that community?

6. When Bruno confronts Junot about the claim of wifebeating, Junot attacks him. Most policemen or detectives would have hauled Junot off to jail immediately. Instead, Bruno helps him get his tractor started. What does this encounter reveal about Bruno?

7. The theme of violence against women runs throughout the novel. What forms of ill treatment and exploitation of women does the novel explore?

8. When Bruno first encounters Eugénie, he observes that some would have thought her beautiful, with her perfect features and ivory complexion. “But there was a lack of animation or perhaps too much self-control in her face,” he says [p. 51]. What else does Bruno notice about Eugénie that makes him wary of her? How do Bruno’s very subtle powers of observation serve him as a detective?

9. Why does Isabelle choose not to stay in St. Denis and make a life with Bruno? Why is Bruno unwilling to go to Paris to be with her? Would Bruno be a less appealing character if he were married?

10. When Bruno realizes he can use the photographer Delaron for his own purposes—to get the newspaper to investigate the links between the vacation village and  Gaston Lemontin’s file on Thivion—he reflects that he likes “solutions where everyone seemed to win” [p. 156]. What does this passage reveal about Bruno’s motivations and overriding concerns? Is he able to find “solutions where everyone seemed to win” in The Devil’s Cave?

11. In what ways does Bruno’s army training help him in the final, explosive encounter in the Devil’s Cave? Why does he fight so hard to save the count’s life?

12. Bruno doesn’t rely on DNA and other forms of forensic evidence to solve crimes, as so many modern police forces and detectives do. What does he rely upon instead?

13. The criminals in The Devil’s Cave are motivated by the age-old desires for money and power, but in what ways is the novel a reflection of our own unique historical moment? What role do real estate scams, shady investment firms, pornography, tourism, and media manipulation play in the novel?

14. A character like the Red Countess, an aristocratic Communist who was a courier in the French Resistance, could exist only in France. In what other ways is The Devil’s Cave a distinctly French novel? How does it differ from popular American or Swedish mysteries?

15. Martin Walker is also a journalist who writes a weekly column, “Walker’s World,” on international affairs. In what ways is The Devil’s Cave not only a highly enjoyable detective novel but also a serious commentary on our time?

Customer Reviews

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The Devil's Cave 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
cy-12_34 More than 1 year ago
I have thoroughly enjoyed all the books in this marvelous series by Martin Walker. Bruno is the consummate policeman in a small town in France who overcomes all the problems due to his quick mind and clever reasoning. The books are loaded with interesting characters and once in a while Bruno gets some "action." I would recommend these books to anyone.
Allen1946 More than 1 year ago
Once again Mr Walker continues to peak my interest in Bruno's activities. His writing is on a par with Hemingway. Easy to read and thoroughly enjoyable. Makes we wish I could live in St. Denis and meet his wonderful characters.
iowashort More than 1 year ago
Martin Walker's books about Bruno, a police chief in France just keep on getting better. The mystery is good, but the food and the country side, the people who are in each book are the best part of the books. You feel like you are there and know these people well or at least that you would like to be living there. Hope he writes a new one soon, these are the type of books you can reread and find something new in each book. Highly recommend them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
redhood More than 1 year ago
The Bruno Chief of Police novels are wonderful to read, with a caring, small town French cop who loves wine, great cooking, dogs, horses, kids and his community. Bruno uses a lot of compassionate common sense to solve crimes and the descriptions of the French countryside transport the reader to a beautifully warm place to stay.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved his other books, but I thought this one wasn't nearly as good. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As with the previous 4 Bruno books, this was was written, interesting, and fun to read. The description of the Dordogne location was accurate and the Bruno's kitchen preparations were mouth watering.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Powerspirit: Looks~sky blue with dark blue stripes and splotches of white~ Mate~Arrowhead~Rank~ Queen ~Personality~ bright Arrowpower:Looks~light red with dark red stripes with splotches of yellow~ Mate~ Powerspirit~ Rank~ Warrior~ Personality~ shyish
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Smokefur layed down. • Jaguarshade left. ((Gtg. Bbl.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Looked around
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name: Leafstar Age: 24 moons Looks: Silver with blue stripes, purple eyes Genger: Dhecat Mate: Jayheart Crush: Jayheart Kits: Graysky, Nightsky, Lionblaze, Wolfkit, Moonkit, Flamekit, Sunkit, Tigerkit Powers: Shapeshifting and Ice History: Just ask Brother: Wolfblaze, Eaglefeather, Rockblaze Sister: Moonpool Name: Nightsky Age: 12 moons Looks: Black with yellow eyes Genger: Shecat Mate: None Crush: Tidechaser Kits: None Powers: Ice History: Just ask Brother: Graysky, Lionblaze, Tigerkit, Flamekit Sister: Wolfkit, Moonkit, Sunkit Name: Graysky Age: 12 moons Looks: Gray with yellow eyes Genger: Tom Mate: None Crush: None Kits: None Powers: Healing History: Just ask Brother: Lionblaze, Tigerkit, Flamekit Sister: Nightsky, Wolfkit, Sunkit, Moonkit Name: Lionblaze Age: 12 moons Looks: Yellow, green eyes Genger: Tom Mate: None Crush: Roseheart Kits: None Powers: Shapeshifting History: Just ask Brother: Graysky, Tigerkit, Flamekit Sister: Nightsky, Wolfkit, Sunkit, Moonkit Kits bios are in Result 4
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Watches Cole and thinks -nice u only checked ur phone-
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We will just ignore your godmodding posts. Gtgtb bbt
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Comes up behind Toyama and stabs the horrible creature with a sword in the back.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A bull jumps on the cow and F**** it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
F*** me hard
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Finally lets him go and walks to prison bars