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Martin Walker. Bruno's Challenge: and Other Stories of the French Countryside (Alfred Knopf, $27.00 Unsigned).
Martin Walker presents his first collection of stories featuring all the familiar characters from his Bruno novels and the glories of the Périgord region of France, with ample helpings of food and wine.
After a prisoner breaks parole to see his son on Christmas, Bruno must track him down before he throws away his chance at eventual freedom. When a Senegalese man’s coffee sells superbly at the market, some café owners become incensed by the new competition and take matters into their own hands. As a Swiss tourist and a St. Denis native fall in love over the fruit-and-veggie stall, one of their family members takes drastic steps to break them up. A fledgling tour bus business is sabotaged, leading Bruno to take a closer look at a town love triangle. Called in to investigate a case of stolen oysters, our beloved policeman reunites with an old flame to catch the shellfish thieves.
In story after story, Bruno settles town disputes, mediates family quarrels, and tracks down lawbreakers in his adored village of St. Denis and its environs. Featured meals in the collection include a fatty Christmas goose, a savory nettle soup with crème fraîche, and a fluffy quiche Lorraine.