The Children Return
by Martin Walker

Overview -

The Dordogne's favorite chief of police is back in a case full of twists and turns that finds his small town shockingly targeted by a terrorist network.

When an undercover agent tracking domestic jihadists is found murdered, it's troubling enough for Bruno's beloved village.  Read more...

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More About The Children Return by Martin Walker

The Dordogne's favorite chief of police is back in a case full of twists and turns that finds his small town shockingly targeted by a terrorist network.

When an undercover agent tracking domestic jihadists is found murdered, it's troubling enough for Bruno's beloved village. But when this is followed by the return of Sami, a local autistic youth thought lost to Islamic extremism, provincial St. Denis suddenly becomes a front line in the global war on terror. Abducted and exploited for his technological genius in Afghanistan, Sami has used his talents to gather invaluable stores of al-Qaeda intel--but as an international tribunal descends to begin an exhaustive debrief, it becomes clear Sami's former handlers are far from ready to relinquish him. Now the same jihadists who killed the agent aim to silence Sami, and as the eyes of the intelligence world turn toward his case, Bruno must scramble to track down the terrorists before they exact their own justice.

As if things aren't complicated enough, Bruno finds himself contending with the mixed, alluring signals of one of the high-ranking U.S. intelligence officers on Sami's case, even while juggling the affections of his neighbor and sometime lover. Add to that a member of the tribunal with dangerous skeletons in his closet, the mysterious history of two Jewish siblings who claim to have been sheltered locally from the Nazis during World War II, and a high-profile philanthropist whose presence in St. Denis seems to be attracting attention from the jihadists, and it's all almost enough to absent Bruno from the village's wine festival.

With international intrigue and action aplenty, The Children Return is a journey to St. Denis that readers won't soon forget.

Published in Great Britain under the title Children of War.

  • ISBN-13: 9780385354158
  • ISBN-10: 0385354150
  • Publisher: Alfred a Knopf Inc
  • Publish Date: April 2015
  • Page Count: 319
  • Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.25 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds

Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Suspense

BookPage Reviews

Whodunit: Murder, politics and other unnatural disasters

It has been six years since I picked up Attica Locke’s debut, Black Water Rising, in which activist-turned-attorney Jay Porter rescued a drowning woman and set off a sequence of events that reverberated through the halls of Houston’s power elite. In Locke’s latest thriller, Pleasantville, Porter is recently widowed and struggling to keep his life on track as he looks into the case of a missing political volunteer. As an environmental law practitioner, Porter is best known for having won a huge settlement against an oil company (for which he has yet to be paid), so an abduction/murder case is a bit outside his area of expertise. The crime scene complicates matters, as Pleasantville is an upwardly mobile black suburb pivotal to the Houston mayoral election. The outcome of the trial and the election are intertwined in ways that Porter cannot begin to imagine. Fans of Louise Penny or Sara Paretsky should buy all of Locke’s books and start reading. She’s that good.

Murders don’t happen often in quiet Saint-Denis, France, the home of Bruno, Chief of Police. But within moments of the opening of Martin Walker’s new mystery, The Children Return, Bruno is slapped upside the head with one of the most difficult cases of his career. An undercover agent is brutally assaulted with a hot cattle prod and left mutilated almost beyond recognition. When Bruno is called to the scene, his experiences as a policeman have in no way prepared him for this degree of barbarity. It comes to light that the victim was involved in the investigation of jihadists, which provides the perfect segue into the next event to rock St. Denis: the reappearance of Sami, an autistic young man suspected to have been recruited by Islamic terrorists. Sami is a veritable wealth of information on the inner workings of al-Qaeda, so the good guys want to debrief him immediately, and the bad guys want to silence him sooner than that. Thus, at the drop of a beret, Saint-Denis takes reluctant center stage in the war on terrorism. Nicely crafted with sensitivity and humo(u)r, The Children Return is tailor-made for fans of Peter Mayle, Colin Cotterill and Alexander McCall Smith.

I had some initial trepidation about reviewing Anne Hillerman’s debut novel, Spider Woman’s Daughter, which continued her father Tony Hillerman’s series featuring Navajo tribal cops Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. But Hillerman fille put my fears to rest with her Tony-like, unembellished writing style and the fleshing out of some of the female characters. The second installment in the series, Rock with Wings, finds Leaphorn sitting on the sidelines, thanks to a bullet wound that by rights should have dispatched him to his final reward. Confining Leaphorn to the bench certainly doesn’t shut him up, and he serves as a sounding board and mentor for Chee and Chee’s wife, policewoman Bernadette Manuelito, as they struggle through a pair of perplexing cases, one involving the murder of a film company employee on the set of a B-grade zombie flick, and another featuring a very suspicious character furtively moving boxes of desert soil around the Southwest in the back of a rented Chevy Malibu. For chapters at a time, I totally forgot I was not reading Tony Hillerman’s writing, a strong compliment both to Anne and her much-missed dad.

Yeah, yeah, I know. One more Walter Mosley book, one more Top Pick, a recurring theme. But here’s the thing: Mosley’s series featuring NYC private eye Leonid McGill has done what nobody expected, garnering critical acclaim and loyal readership to rival the author’s legendary Easy Rawlins books. The latest, And Sometimes I Wonder About You, finds the diminutive PI hot on the trail of a purported rare manuscript thief—although in this case, “purported” refers to the rare manuscript, not the thief, because the stolen papers are anything but an important antiquity. Instead, they are something of a modern-day salacious headline generator that one or more people are willing to kill for. The McGill mysteries always have lots going on, and this one is no exception: Our protagonist is dallying with no fewer than three beautiful women, one of whom is his suicidal wife; his long-thought-dead father shows up for a familial encore; and his son Twilliam finds himself caught up in the machinations of a shadowy underworld figure who manipulates a city-wide team of underage lawbreakers. The Easy Rawlins and McGill series are wildly different from one another, but I would be hard-pressed to choose which I prefer.


This article was originally published in the May 2015 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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