The Patriarch

Bruno, Chief of Police
Narrated by: Robert Ian Mackenzie
Series: Bruno, Chief of Police, Book 8
Length: 10 hrs and 23 mins
4.4 out of 5 stars (350 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A beloved village, a renowned family, a suspicious death - it's the latest adventure in the Dordogne for police chief Bruno. When Bruno is invited to the lavish birthday celebration of World War II flying ace and national icon Marco "the Patriarch" Desaix, it's the fulfillment of a boyhood dream. But when the party ends in the death of Gilbert, Marco's longtime friend, it's another day on the job for the chef de police. All signs point to a tragic accident, but Bruno isn't so sure. There is more to the Desaix family's lives and loyalties than meets the eye.

There is Victor, the patriarch's son, Gilbert's old comrade-in-arms and sometime rival; Victor's seductive wife, Madeleine, whose roving eye intrigues Bruno even more than her fierce political ambitions; Yevgeny, another son, an artist whose paintings seem to hold keys to the past; and the patriarch himself, whose postwar Soviet ties may have intersected all too closely with Gilbert's career in Cold War intelligence. Bruno is diverted by a dangerous conflict between a local animal rights activist and outraged hunters - as well as meals to cook, wine to share, and an ever more complicated romantic situation. But as his entanglement with the Desaix family grows and his suspicions heighten, Bruno's inquiries into Gilbert's life become a deadly threat to his own.

©2015 Walker and Watson, Ltd. (P)2015 Recorded Books

What listeners say about The Patriarch

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

same old same old

Somehow I missed the Patriarch by Martin Walker when it came out. I was looking around for something to read, and check to see when the next Bruno Chief of Police novel comes out. I discovered that it came out in June and not only did I miss the release, but I also missed one of the previous books in the series.

It is odd that you can read a series and not notice when you miss a book. And once I finished reading The Patriarch, I am can see why I did not realize that I missed anything. This novel did not really move the story along.

In one of the previous books Bruno saved ‘The Red Countess’, an elderly woman from a historic family that was being drugged to steal her land. The Red Countess invites him to a party for the Patriarch, a national hero of the cold war, a pilot and one of the Countess’s previous relationships.

At the party, which is local and adds in yet another wealthy member of the community, Bruno observes a quiet scuffle between a granddaughter of the Patriarch and her Godfather, the best friend of one of the sons of the Patriarch. Later that day, Bruno is called in to quietly certify the death of the Godfather, who it turns out was a former spy.

Again the connection is a bit too complicated for a small French town. But it works with the formula that Martin Walker has set up for the series. The Patriarch includes some history that has an impact on the modern day. There is the side thread of a community problem that Bruno has to solve through creative negotiation (in this case an unauthorized deer refuge by a local animal rights supporter). And there is Bruno’s love life, which I know the result of before I started the book because I accidentally read the next book first.

As a novel, the thread work fine. As a broader series, it is a perfect example of a series going awry. Bruno is stuck in his life. His desire to settle down and have a family isn’t going anywhere (and the next book is much the same). The small community has gotten much too large to continue in quite the same way that the early books suggested. Walker’s desire to keep the series interesting has continued to add in threads of international relations, terrorism, and organized crime instead of focusing on writing characters that grow and change.

The Patriarch was fine. I read some pretty negative reviews before I started, so my expectations were low. It wasn’t as bad of a book as the negative reviews suggested. Walker still can write and a lot of the elements that I like about the series were still present. But those elements are becoming a bit cardboard. The next book in the series, The Templar’s Last Secret is out. I will read it soon, but my interest in the series has wained.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

Great for atmosphere-disappointing ending

Love the author's obvious regard for this region of France. I listen to these for the description of life in Perigord and to follow the characters to which we've been introduced. This novel ended abruptly with loose ends that didn't quite fit together. A lackluster effort on the author's part.

3 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Too many characters

May be my least favorite Bruno story so far. The Russian connection and inter family intrigue was rather tiring. Found Bruno's romance out of character. He is smarter than that.

1 person found this helpful

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Big disappointment

I enjoyed the earlier novels in this series. They always included a moderate dose of political evangelism. Unfortunately this novel is mostly unbalanced political diatribe that makes heavy use of the strawman technique. The ghostly thin plot, when one can find it, is flat and boring. Let us hope the author has exorcised his political demons and that the next installment in the Bruno series returns to form.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Not the best Bruno story.

I thoroughly enjoy this series, but felt Bruno acted out if character in this one.

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Franco- Russian Affairs

A complicated tale grounded by the fascinating recent history of foreign relations between France and Russia over the two World Wars even with a brief reference to Napoleon and his involvement with the Russians. Bruno, the indefatigable ladies’ man, embarrasses himself in this novel, jeopardizing his career and his integrity but he perseveres assuring us of continued entertainment in the Perigord region of France with its rich culture of wine, hearty food and its bucolic countryside.The reader’s Russian accent was colorful; his French lacks subtlety.

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Below average for the Bruno series

A weak main plot, and worse side plot about a green deer lover, uninteresting characters, and a ending that was just weird...

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one of his best.

great story, weaving in unique WWII material with Cold War espionage, and good ole skeletons in the family closet.

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The Patriarch

A good story. Very interesting to read about Franco-Russian relations during Cold War. Add more of Bruno's wine, food and countryside and I'm a happy reader.

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    4 out of 5 stars

Another good story of Bruno chief of police

I have enjoyed the series, although this book is probably not my favorite. I'm not really sure what was going on in the authors head but Bruno, who is generally very analytical and smart, gets involved with a woman he shouldn't. Spoiler alert – she's a suspect and it doesn't end well. Otherwise I truly enjoy the descriptions of the town, of the characters, and especially, of the food that is prepared every other chapter or so. Don't read/listen if you're hungry!