Normally I wouldn’t even bother to review this slight and forgettable volume by Martin Walker, but it provides such a nice “compare and contrast” opportunity that I can’t resist. Immediately after reading The Children Return, I turned to Bruno and the Carol Singers, another entry in the “Bruno, Chief of Police” series. But this work is a mere 67 pages — far from a full-length novel — and is available only in audiobook or Kindle format. Released three years ago just in time for Christmas (what a surprise, given the title), it is a feel-good story with some of the same strengths and the same weaknesses as Walker’s longer works. A strength is that his brush strokes always reveal a clear picture of the geography, culture, and people of the Périgueux region of France; a weakness is that the relaxed pace and the tinge of right-wing sympathies can turn off some readers.
Other readers have used words like “sweet” and ”charming” to characterize Bruno and the Carol Singers, and I can’t really disagree. It’s not much of a mystery, certainly not much of a police procedural, so don’t go into it expecting that sort of book. Apparently the Kindle version comes with a travel guide or essay, but it wasn’t in the audiobook that I listened to, which was worth the 58-minute investment in any case.