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Wednesday 30 April 2014

‘Monster’ by Dave Zeltserman

Published by Duckworth,
23 May 2013.
ISBN: 978-0-715645093

If you have ever read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and enjoyed it, then you will probably love this book, or you will hate it!  This is the story of Frankenstein’s monster, from his viewpoint.

In this side of the story, the real monster is the doctor himself, killing and framing people to get the body parts and the personalities he needs.  As you view his work through the eyes of his monster (once one Friedrich Hoffman, a respected chemist) you hear how Frankenstein frames Friedrich by murdering his fiance and then, once he is put to death for the murder, Frankenstein uses his body to try and create new life.

Written in the gothic style of Mary Shelley and linking with elements present in the original book, this is a really interesting take on the Frankenstein legend.  It weaves around the story in a creative and dark way speaking with the voice of the doomed Friedrich, who only wants his life back.  On realising that nothing will ever be the same again, he begins to track Dr Frankenstein to prevent him from taking the life of anyone else, coming across some other bizarre events and people which alter his perceptions of the world.

Despite being a monster’s eye view of the world, Zeltserman manages to combine the gruesome and twisted world of Frankenstein with some poignant observations about mankind.  The story is interesting and creatively written and I would recommend it to anyone who likes to look at things with a different perspective and an opposing view.  Excellent reading.
Reviewer: Amanda Brown

Dave Zeltserman is the Shamus award winning author of 'Julius Katz', and the Ellery Queen's Readers Choice Award winner for 'Archie's Been Framed'. His 'man out of prison' crime thriller series features the novels Small Crimes, Pariah and Killer, with Small Crimes being selected by NPR as one of the five best crime novels of 2008 and by the Washington Post as one of the best novels of 2008, and Pariah selected by the Washington Post as one of the best novels of 2009. His novel The Caretaker of Lorne Field was short listed by the ALA for best horror novel of 2010 as well as being nominated for a Black Quill Award for best dark genre novel of the year. His crime novels Outsourced and A Killer's Essence  have both been optioned for film.

Tuesday 29 April 2014

‘The Bull Slayer’ by Bruce MacBain

Published by Head of Zeus,
8 July 2013.
ISBN: 978-1-7818-5079-4

In 109 AD Pliny the Younger has just arrived as Governor of Bithynia, appointed to this position by Emperor Trajan. The task is onerous since Bithynia is known as a cesspit of sedition, full of corruption and with a Greek population that hates the Romans who now rule.

The death of Balbus, a rich Roman citizen, on a desolate hillside is regarded as murder - he has a broken neck and crushed vertebrae - but, strangely, his expensive clothing and rings have not been taken. The
likelihood that he rode with a companion to this spot is another peculiar fact. Pliny and his household of secretary, lictors, doctor and slaves must investigate. Pliny's wife, Calpurnia, and her maid, Ione, must manage life surrounded by the idle and inquisitive wives of local officials so it is probably not surprising that Calpurnia becomes withdrawn and unhappy. Pliny wonders at the cause of her depression and has her bled to balance her humours. But perhaps there is more to this?

The presence of various religious groups adds to the problems with earthquakes offering even more complications to the mix. The story really winds around as Pliny tries to make sense of events while trying also to deal with the endemic corruption. The knowledge of the Roman world at this time shown by Bruce Macbain is impressive but he is a Classics and Ancient History graduate.
Reviewer: Jennifer Palmer
Bruce Macbain has published one previous book in this series - RomanGames.

Bruce MacBain was born in Chicago, Illinois, the only child of a chorus girl and a public relations man—a fact which had surprisingly little effect on his future calling. As a child, he squandered whole days (when other boys were at the playground working on their jump shot) in reading science fiction and history. Greek and Roman history held a special fascination for him and this led eventually to acquiring a master's degree in Classical Studies and a doctorate in Ancient History. As an assistant professor of Classics, he taught courses in Late Antiquity and Roman religion—which is a particular interest of his—and published a few impenetrable scholarly monographs, which almost no one read. He eventually left academe and turned to teaching English as a second language, a field he was trained in while serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Borneo in the 60s.  Macbain has lately turned to writing historical mysteries set in ancient Rome, featuring the senatorial letter-writer Pliny the Younger as his protagonist, assisted by other literary figures such as the poet Martial and the biographer Suetonius.

Jennifer Palmer Throughout my reading life crime fiction has been a constant interest; I really enjoyed my 15 years as an expatriate in the Far East, the Netherlands & the USA but occasionally the solace of closing my door to the outside world and sitting reading was highly therapeutic. I now lecture to adults on historical topics including Famous Historical Mysteries.

‘The Devil’s Sanctuary’ by Marie Hermanson

Published by Trapdoor,
25th July 2013.
ISBN: 978-1-84744-577-3

 This is a serious warning:  don’t begin this book if you have a meal, a meeting or an urgent appointment any time soon.  You won’t make it.

This wonderful Swedish thriller begins with Daniel Brandt receiving a letter from his twin brother, Max.  The brothers were brought up mainly apart, meeting only on their shared birthday, and Max’s bizarre behaviour in the past means that Daniel regards any contact with wariness.  However Max is now in a Swiss clinic which is helping him manage his bi-polar disorder, and all he’s asking Daniel to do is visit.  When Daniel arrives at the heavily-guarded Himmelstal, Max persuades him to change places, just for a few days, so that Max can leave to sort out his finances ... except that he doesn’t return, and when Daniel tries to persuade the doctors that he isn’t Max, nobody believes him.

The set-up’s a compelling one – twin swaps and identity loss are a sure-fire draw.  Daniel’s likeable straight away as a decent guy with problems of his own.  Anyone who’s ever played sibling power games (and that’s all sibs) will sympathise with his ambivalence about Max’s intentions.  When he’s tricked into staying, as Max, then you’re willing him to prove his identity.  However as he’s drawn into the reality of ‘Heaven Valley’, identity becomes less important than escape from the twisted reality.

The (translated) prose is simple and compelling, the description of the alpine scenery atmospheric.  The characters are intriguingly bizarre, and increasingly sinister, until you’re as unsure as Daniel who he can trust.  This book is a straight roller-coaster ride, moving through action to discovery and more discovery.  It’s not particularly gruesome.  There are no fashionable flashbacks, and the third-person narration is generally centred on Daniel, with the occasional move to Dr Obermann’s head.  The author knows she’s thought up a terrific story, and she gets on with holding her audience spell-bound.  Enjoy.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

Marie Hermanson was born in Sweden in 1956. She published her first book in 1986. Her novels are huge bestsellers in Sweden. She lives in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

Sunday 27 April 2014

‘The Boyfriend’ by Thomas Perry

Published by Head of Zeus,
3 June 2013.
ISBN: 9781781850831
When Jack Till is hired by the parents of a murdered escort, Catherine Hamilton, his initial review suggests it was a robbery gone wrong. But the private investigator soon realises that there's a lot more to this case than meets the eye.

With five slim, strawberry blonde high class escorts killed in five cities, Jack quickly sees that they are all very similar in appearance and searches online to find the next victim. What he doesn't expect to see is a photo of Kyra, another slim, strawberry blonde high class escort wearing Catherine Hamilton's jewellery. Would a robber gift his spoils to another escort? Would a client even do that? Or is it more like the behaviour of a boyfriend?

Jack arranges to meet Kyra and is horrified to find that she is murdered within hours of their rendezvous - and that he let the man he saw leaving Kyra's house get away.

But is this case really about a serial killer with a fetish for strawberry blonde women? Or are they just a cover for other criminal activities? Unimpressed with the lead police officers working the case, Jack gets more deeply involved. At the same time, the reader is introduced to the murderer and shown the truth behind his actions.

Despite needing some leaps of faith, this is an engaging tale that presents both the hero and the anti-hero as skilled, attractive and confident - the only difference really seems to be the depth of compassion they have each have for their fellow human beings, which is an interesting point to deliberate; whether our relationships with other people are really all that define us in the end.

Described by Stephen King as "high-voltage shocks, vivid characters and compelling narratives", this reader would summarise the tale as a pleasantly diverting and not too taxing story that plunges the reader into a well constructed, believable world where, like gladiators, it all comes down to who wants it most in the end.
Reviewer: Joanna Leigh

Thomas Perry was born in Tonawanda, New York in 1947. He received a B.A. from Cornell University in 1969 and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Rochester in 1974. He has worked as a park maintenance man, factory laborer, commercial fisherman, university administrator and teacher, and a writer and producer of prime time network television shows. He is the author of 21 novels. He won the Edgar for The Butcher's Boy, and Metzger's Dog was a New York Times Notable Book. The Independent Mystery Bookseller's Association included Vanishing Act in its "100 Favorite Mysteries of the 20th Century," and Nightlife was a New York Times bestseller. Metzger's Dog was voted one of NPR's 100 Killer Thrillers--Best Thrillers Ever. He lives in Southern California.

Joanna Leigh studied French and German at university. She works in the aerospace industry and is a chartered marketer in the UK. She describes herself as a voracious reader, enjoying genres as varied as crime thrillers, historical fiction and autobiographies. Joanna lives in London. She is the daughter of crime thriller writer Leigh Russell.

‘The Thief’ by Fuminori Nakamura

Published by Corsair,
16 May 2013. 
ISBN: 978-1-47210-587-5

This is a crime novel in its purest sense, the story of a criminal entangled in a greater level of crime than he wished for, and I was gripped from the first, elegant sentence: When I was a kid I often messed this up.  The narrator, Nishimura, is a pickpocket, and we’re drawn to sympathise with him by the bleakness of his life and the dreamlike element of his fears, the ‘tower’ from the end of his street that oversees his misdeeds.  During the novel we learn of his old friend and partner, Ishikawa, and his lost lover, Saeko, and we also meet the young boy who represents what Nishimura once was, and who can, perhaps, be saved from becoming what he now is. 

The story is fresh, compelling; the writing is taut and filled with a spare beauty; the simple sentences keep you reading quickly on to find out what is going to happen next.  The book works on several levels: as a crime story, as a psychological study, as a fable.  I enjoyed reading it very much, and it will resonate in my head for some time to come
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor
Fuminori Nakamura born in Aichi on 2 September 1977. Nakamura came to international attention when he won the 2010 Kenzaburo Oe Prize for his novel, The Thief . The English translation of the novel was well received. The Wall Street Journal called the book a "chilling philosophical thriller" and included it in its Best Fiction of 2012,

Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

Thursday 24 April 2014

‘After I'm Gone’ by Laura Lippman

Published by Faber & Faber,
3 April 2014.
ISBN: 978-0-057-29966-9

Laura Lippman is known for her wonderful series featuring PI. Tess Monaghan, among other terrific books.  So I started this book believing it to be a murder mystery, especially as it begins with the discovery of a dead body.  But then it appeared that I was wrong, that it was instead a very interesting character study, or rather 'studies,' dealing as it does with a dysfunctional family, the wife and three daughters (as well as their significant others) of a fascinating man, Felix Brewer, rarely seen in these pages, the husband and father of these women, and others who were close to him.  These latter included the lawyer and bail bondsman who were his best friends since their Baltimore high school days, and Julie, the younger mistress with whom he had cheated on his wife for several years as the story opens, which story encompasses a 35-year period.

Felix met Bernadette ("Bambi") when she was 19 years old at a Valentine's Day dance and quickly swept her off her feet, marrying her soon after.  (Valentine's Day, New Year's Eve, when Felix and Bambi married, and July 4th are significant dates in the story.)  A bookmaker, he keeps her in very comfortable surroundings until he is arrested, convicted, and about to start serving a prison term when, on July 4th, 1976, he vanishes, with no clue as to his plans or his whereabouts, leaving his wife relatively impoverished, his mistress slightly less so.  Ten years later, to the day, Julie vanishes as well, her dead body found soon after.  The present-day narration begins 26 years later, when Roberto ("Sandy") Sanchez, the Cuban-born retired Baltimore cop who, as a consultant working on cold cases for the police department, picks up the murder file.

If all this was was a book encompassing character studies of each of these, it would very interesting reading.  But that would be selling Ms. Lippman quite short:  She has rendered a fascinating mystery, dealing with Brewer's disappearance, his mistress' murder, and the complex stories of the lives of these people, the detective on the case as well as all the others who make up the suspect group, each rendered in fine detail.  Infidelity, in several manifestations, plays a large role in the plot.  The author has fashioned an ending that you won't see coming, even when you're sure you do.  (Parenthetically, the tie-in to Tess Monaghan near the book's end was a delight.)  As with all Ms. Lippman's books, this one too is highly recommended.

Reviewer: Gloria Feit

Laura Lippman was a reporter for twenty years, including twelve years at The (Baltimore) Sun. She began writing novels while working fulltime and published seven books about "accidental PI" Tess Monaghan before leaving daily journalism in 2001. Her work has been awarded the Edgar ®, the Anthony, the Agatha, the Shamus, the Nero Wolfe, Gumshoe and Barry awards. She also has been nominated for other prizes in the crime fiction field, including the Hammett and the Macavity. She was the first-ever recipient of the Mayor's Prize for Literary Excellence and the first genre writer recognized as Author of the Year by the Maryland Library Association. Ms. Lippman grew up in Baltimore and attended city schools through ninth grade. After graduating from Wilde Lake High School in Columbia, Md., Ms. Lippman attended Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her other newspaper jobs included the Waco Tribune-Herald and the San Antonio Light. Ms. Lippman returned to Baltimore in 1989 and has lived there since.

Ted and Gloria Feit live in Long Beach, NY, a few miles outside New York City.  For 26 years, Gloria was the manager of a medium-sized litigation firm in lower Manhattan. Her husband, Ted, is an attorney and former stock analyst, publicist and writer/editor for, over the years, several daily, weekly and monthly publications.  Having always been avid mystery readers, and since they're now retired, they're able to indulge that passion.  Their reviews appear online as well as in three print publications in the UK and US.  On a more personal note: both having been widowed, Gloria and Ted have five children and nine grandchildren between them.

Oli Munson

Oli Munson -
Committee Member Of The Agents Association
talks to Leigh Russell

Leigh: You work tirelessly to support authors. What drew you to this career path?
Oli: A desire to work closely with creative people and to help manage their careers. 

Leigh: Should authors build an online presence, or is it merely a distraction from writing? 
Oli: Much is made of authors needing to be social media savvy and I think it does help build an author's career. Authors have never been more accessible to their fans around the world. But there are plenty of successful authors who don't tweet and still sell millions of copies. But I would say if you are going to enter the world of social media, I don't think there's any point dipping your toe in the water. You have to go all in, tweet regularly and interact with people: don't use it exclusively for self-promotion.

Leigh: What advice would you offer to authors, both new and established? 
Oli: Stay market aware and don't be afraid to step back, re-evaluate and freshen-up what you're writing. I think that's particularly true with long running crime series. I think as fans of crime fiction, we all have read
authors who by the time the 10th book in a series comes around, it feels like they’re just phoning it in. 

Leigh: How do you see the future for self-published authors, and for the traditionally published?
Oli: Very bright indeed, for both. Some people might fear working during a time of perceived change and flux but I love that we're working in a time of great flexibility. Authors can only benefit from that. 

Leigh: I have seen serious discussions online about whether all writers are insane. What do you think?
Oli: Sure, maybe a little. In a "You don't have to be crazy to work here but it helps" kind of way. 

Leigh: Finally, in one sentence, what does the Association of Agents offer its members?
Oli: Support and a forum to discuss the major publishing issues of the day

Thanks Oli for talking to us.

Wednesday 23 April 2014

‘Death by Duck’ by John Wilson

Published by Troubador Publishing,
August 2013.
ISBN: 978-1-78088-575-9

The dean stands over the body of a ex-student, who he knows was killed by a person wearing a duck mask.   When his secretary walks in he is standing over the dead body, gun in hand.  He then runs and the body has disappeared by the time the police get there.

This is a really unusual story about Dean Ansari, not a killer but a frightened fugitive who runs as far away as he can.   Without knowing why someone has been killed and confused by the fact that no paper has reported his escape from justice he leaves the country that he knows well and transplants himself to India and beyond.    What happens as he travels is that his experiences widen and he meets a variety of interesting and sometimes unsavoury characters.

This is not really a book about the murder, though it is the thread that runs through the story.  Mostly, it is about a man finding out about the world and his own resourcefulness in the face of adversity.   He is followed by a resourceful policeman who is nicely painted as someone who believes in the Dean’s innocence, but is determined to follow him anyway.

Really interesting book, with characters who are deliberately larger than life and caricatures to carry the story forward in a funny and eccentric way.  For me there are some elements of charm which so carried the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency novels into the hearts of the public.  Quirky and fun to read with some outright laughs at the antics of the Dean and his naivety. 
Reviewer: Amanda Brown

John Wilson was involved in legal education for over 35 years in various capacities. He currently lives with his wife in Greenbrae, California, and has three children.

‘A Song From Dead Lips’ by William Shaw

Published by Quercus,
August 2013.
ISBN: 978-1-78206-416-9

Marylebone Police Station, 1968.  Cathal Breen, the station misfit, has just left his partner down by running away from a knife-wielding burglar.  To get him away from the taunts of coward, his boss sends him to investigate the corpse of a naked young woman ... except that her death’s not as simple as it seems.

This police procedural takes the reader straight back into the other side of the psychadelic 1960s: the police corruption and incompetence, the non-stop sexist and racist comments, the lack of all the technology that’s taken for granted today.  Breen is diffident, old-fashioned (he doesn’t even have a favourite Beatle!) and principled, not willing to accept the obvious answers; his new partner, WPC Tozer, has the entree into the Beatles fan club, likes modern music and parties, and is, shockingly, on the pill.  Real events – John Lennon being charged with drug use, the Biafran war – are woven into the storyline, and the period detail is well-researched.  The plot moves smoothly along, with an interesting variety of suspects and good action sequences, but it’s not a sixties-style thriller; it has a much more modern edge to it.

An interesting police procedural that gives a real feel of station life in the sixties.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

William Shaw was born in Newton Abbot, Devon, and lived for sixteen years in Hackney. For over twenty years he has written on popular culture and sub-culture for various publications including the Observer and the New York Times. A Song from Dead Lips is his first novel. He lives in Brighton.

 Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

‘The Golden Calf’ by Helen Tursten

Published by Soho Crime,
5 December 2013.
ISBN: 9781616952983

This novel is set in the Swedish city of Gothenburg. It begins with the murder of the extremely wealthy Kjell B:son Ceder and the discovery of his body by his wife, the beautiful and much younger Sanna Kaegler-Ceder in the couple's luxurious seaside villa. The crime is investigated by Detective Inspector Irene Huss and her longtime friend and colleague Detective Inspector Tommy Persson and other members of the team under the direction of the grumpy Superintendent Sven Andersson. Ceder's money had come not only from the various hotels that he owned but also from his first wife who had died in a rather dubious boating accident which had never been properly investigated. Then the team are called on to investigate two more murders: Joachim Rothstaahl and Philip Bergman. That investigation reveals that both men had business links with Sanna in an online venture that gone down in the boom and bust of the late 90s. It seems that Sanna has some explaining to do; furthermore, the revelation through DNA analysis that Ceder was not the biological father of her little boy Ludwig raises queries about the nature of the relationship between him and Sanna. Moreover, another person involved in the ill-fated venture, Thomas Bonetti, had taken out a sizeable amount of the company's capital but had then disappeared – where is he? The facts as Irene unravels them reveal wrong-doing in the past and become more and more complex. Her search for the truth take her to Paris and an encounter with the less than helpful Inspector Verdier of the Paris police and to considerable danger to Irene herself.

This is a good addition to the ranks of Scandinavian crime fiction with an interesting array of believable characters. The account of the rise and fall of the ill-fated venture is convincing and comprehensible. Recommended.
Reviewer: Radmila May
Other novels by the author: Detective Irene Huss,  The Torso, The Glass Devil, Night Round, The Fire Dance

Helene Tursten is the author of the Irene Huss series.  The series has been adapted into a film and TV series in Sweden. She lives in Goitenborg.

Monday 21 April 2014

‘Gold Frankincense and Dust’ by Valerio Vareri

Published by Maclehose Press,
21 November 2013.
ISBN: 978-1-906694-36-4

In a thick fog in the Po Valley in Northern Italy, there is a crash on the autostrada involving numerous vehicles some of which contained cattle which escape and cause chaos. And a badly charred corpse is found lying on the verge. Inspector Soneri of the Parma police is in charge of the case. The corpse is later identified as being that of a young Rumanian woman, Nina Iliescu, her death nothing to do with the autostrada mayhem but clearly murder. Meanwhile, an elderly Rumanian man is found dead of natural causes on a coach from Bucharest. He, it transpires, was Nina's grandfather but why was he coming to Italy? Soneri's investigations lead him to a camp where Italian gypsies and Rumanian Roma live side by side in a state of mutual hostility united only by a wall of silence against outsiders. He also tracks down Nina's various lovers all ensnared by her beauty. But were they using Nina or was she using them? In a fog of false allegations and and deceit, paralleled by the pervading fog typical of the region in winter, Soneri has to clear up the confusion while at  the same time trying to maintain his relationship with his mercurial lover Angela. He strikes up a friendship with the elderly Marchese Sbarazzo, once a rich aristocrat but now a penniless vagrant, with a penchant for gnomic philosophizing which sometimes obscures, sometimes enlightens Soneri's search for the truth. In contrast, the observations of the plain-speaking investigating magistrate, Dottoressa Marcotti, provide welcome moments of clarity.

An interesting addition to the growing number of Italian crime writers now available in English translations who cast light on lesser-known aspects of their country's society.

Other Soneri novels by the author: River of Shadows and The Dark Valley
Reviewer: Radmila May

Valerio Varesi has been the Parma correspondent for La Stampa and La Repubblica. Gold, Frankincense and Dust is the third in a series of thrillers featuring Commissario Soneri.

Sunday 20 April 2014

‘The Treasure Hunt’ by Andrea Camilleri

Published by Mantle, 
26 September 2013. 
ISBN: 978-1-4472-2878-3

When an elderly deranged brother and sister start shooting from their apartment into the street below it is Inspector Montalbano of the Sicilian police who enters the flat and deals with the situation. Not only does media coverage turn Montalbano into a television hero but also publicises in loving detail the squalid chaos of the apartment, in particular a lifesize inflatable doll which seems to have been sexually mutilated. However, once the couple have been taken to a lunatic asylum, there is little to do either on the case or generally as crime in Vigata appears to be on the wane. But then Montalbano receives a strange missive in the form of a doggerel riddle. The solution takes him to a dustbin in a quiet suburb containing what at first appears to be a corpse but which then turns out to be another sexually mutilated inflatable doll. Irritated yet made uneasy by this and by receiving yet more doggerel riddles and feeling that he is being manipulated and also anxious to get away to his far-distant long-suffering girlfriend Livia, he accepts an offer of help from the youthful Arturo Pennisi in solving the riddles. Meanwhile, Montalbano's efforts to get rid of the dolls lead some people such as his respectable housekeeper Adelina to believe that they are real corpses while others, like his colleagues Fazio and Augello, think that Montalbano has been driven by sexual abstinence to use the dolls as sex toys. Adelina;s criminal son Pasquale even sends along an obliging prostitute which causes a misunderstanding between Montalbano and his neighbour Ingrid. But when an elderly father comes to Montalbano to report the disappearance of his daughter and Montalbano realises that the girl who is blond, slim and beautful bears all too close a resemblance to the dolls, farce turns to tragedy and Montalbano has to act swiftly and risk his own life to discover the strange and terrible truth.

This is the sixteenth Montalbano mystery and as full of warmth and humanity as the others. The affection between Montalbano and his colleagues, even the bumbling Catarella, is as strong as ever while the descriptions of the Sicilian delicacies consumed by Montalbano are, as usual, mouthwatering.

Other Montalbano mysteries by the author include The Shape of Water, The Tewrracotta Dog, The Age of Doubt and The Dance of the Seagull.
Reviewer: Radmila May

Andrea Camilleri is one of Italy's most famous contemporary writers. His Montalbano series has been adapted for Italian television and translated into nine languages. He lives in Rome. Stephen Sartarelli is an award-winning translator. He is also the author of three books of poetry, most recently The Open Vault. He lives in France.