A Chateau Under Siege (Bruno, Chief of Police #16), Martin Walker

A Chateau Under Siege by Martin Walker

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This is the new low point of a once-great series. Once a series about Bruno investigating mysteries in rural France, and his friends, this has moved to international spy/tech fiction. This novel doesn’t even have any real mystery anymore… The technological stuff isn’t anything new or interesting, and the spy stuff is just completely over the top. As for the international setting, it involves France, the USA, Russia, China, India, the United Kingdom, Germany, and others…

I won’t hold back any spoilers (marked on platforms supporting that), so proceed with caution.


The story is extremely simplistic: A top-ranking intelligence official, Kerquelin, is attacked and Bruno is investigating. Sadly, it is obvious early on that the attack was staged. The reason for staging it is never revealed, though, and it hardly makes any sense anyway…

Kerquelin had invited friends to the eponymous chateau (which is never under siege, though…) and Bruno is baby-sitting them on orders of the ever-present General Lannes with the help of a squad of soldiers. These friends are supposed to be ultra-rich and ultra-smart Silicon Valley pioneers and, indeed, they’re techno-babbling initially and are made to look like a secret society but even they’re seriously under-used.

Towards the end, they’re even entirely forgotten about and there’s no closure on many loose threads.

Not so present, in contrast to Lannes, are all our old “acquaintances” from the earlier novels – yes, they’re all mentioned in passing but they play absolutely no role in this novel. At one point, some of them chastise Bruno for having thoroughly friend-zoned his potential love interest Florence but that’s it.

Also weird: Bruno, who rarely resists female advances, rejects both Marie-Do and Claire for reasons unknown and neglects to tell Florence about the absence of any romantic feelings on his part. This is all very unsatisfying (sic).

Since it’s clear that there’s no (attempted) murder, Bruno is supposed to find out who is out to get those tech people but even that is mostly done by and, ultimately, achieved by the soldiers under his command.

Lastly, and worst of all, there’s a rushed, lacklustre, cheap ending that leaves a proper Bruno novel to be desired. The ending feels like Walker finally ran out of patience with his own uninspired writing and the (lack of a) story and gave up.

»This feels more like mobile warfare, with snipers and drones and grenades. I’m still trying to adjust.«

I shared that feeling but refused and failed to adjust. This is not what I read these novels for.

The entire novel reads like Martin Walker had absolutely no interest in writing another Bruno novel but wanted to show off his oh-so-brilliant insight into global politics and technology. At the very least, he didn’t manage to write a proper mystery.

One sad star out of five.

Ceterum censeo Putin esse delendam

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