Bruno, Chief Of Police: Martin Walker

Aside from nominally upholding council laws and helping the locals hide from officious EU food inspectors, there seems little for Captain Bruno Courrèges to do in the rural hamlet of St Denis. This leaves him time to enjoy the countryside, indulge in the local produce, and fend off ladies eager to snare the town’s most eligible bachelor. The murder of a reclusive elderly war hero – the apparent victim of a brutal hate crime – shatters this pastoral idyll. Suspicion naturally falls on two rich-kid locals on the fringes of a drug trafficking neo-Nazi group, but as is the case in any crime novel worth the paper it’s printed on, the most obvious answer isn’t always correct.

There’s a broad potential audience for Walker’s debut, as he manages the rare feat of combining a humorous, quaint country cop tale with a modern, detail-driven police procedural. One can only hope that the normally peaceful St Denis will suddenly become a hotbed of crime and intrigue – it would be a shame if this was the last we saw of this charming character.