A wine lover's delight, Walker’s second outing for Bruno Courreges has him investigating a disastrous fire that breaks the stillness of a French summer night. The destruction of a barn on the outskirts of the small town of Saint-Denis is all the more sinister when Bruno discovers that the field next to the ruined barn contained genetically modified crops. There are few clues to the origin of the fire, only that a tip
was called in anonymously from a phone booth in Coux.
This is obviously a serious crime, the crops and the shed charred beyond rescue. Bruno tells the elderly
mayor, Gerard Mangin, that there’s more to this than meets the eye. Someone left an almost empty fuel container at the scene and closed the cap. Soon enough, chief detective Jean-Jacques Jalipeau from the Police Nationale arrives to investigate, but he questions Bruno’s code of justice and his alliances to the region's “code criminel.”
From the outset, Bruno is a gutsy, gruff, meticulous investigator whose first allegiance is to Saint-Denis. He's an exceptionally capable police chief who doesn’t hesitate to get to the truth behind evil deeds, even when these deeds are perpetrated by the rich and powerful. When Bruno finds that the owner of the land was a “societe anonyme”
- a company called Agricolae which paid neither water fees nor taxes and were delinquent in their application for a building permit, he realizes the fire was not lit by eco-saboteurs as previously thought, but perhaps by some high-level corporate interest.
There was a GMO crop, but Saint-Denis’s town council knew nothing about it. As Bruno’s thoughts churn with memories and regrets about the woman he loves, there are few new leads in the case and the
mayor is growing increasingly anxious. The sweet, elderly hippie Alphonse, who
runs a commune in the hills near the area of the fire, can shed little light on the crime. Other than taking in the occasional waifs and stray, Alphonse is hardly the green militant.
A coalition of paint-throwing militants hold rallies outside a local research station dedicated to the development and acquirement of organic crops. Mix in a glamorous Canadian girl by the name of Jacqueline and her current boyfriend, Max, and Bruno finds himself blindsided by a case in which a couple of unusual deaths take on a whole new meaning.
Bruno realizes that Saint-Denis must change with the times when a naked body is discovered in a grape vat, the man somehow tied to the rich and privileged Fernando Bondino,
a wine entrepreneur who perhaps has the best chance of securing the town’s
future. Bondino is a drunken young fool trying to speculate in land prices to build a thriving local wine industry,
and Bruno casts doubt on the man’s intent when his project threatens to change the way of life in Saint-Denis forever.
The nefarious corporate dealings of men do battle with a politically savvy mayor who knows how to play the different intelligence arms of the French police. Age-old family animosities surface and dirty intrigues of the corporate world threaten to break the halls of justice.
The ever-fatalistic Bruno must do whatever he can to protect his town and his people from the shocking consequences of murder and the ever-encroaching greed of men like the wealthy and privileged Monsieur Bondino.