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Friday, 9 January 2015

‘The Stolen’ by T. S. Learner

Published by Sphere,
27 March 2014.
ISBN: 978075155058

Switzerland, 1982.  Matthias von Holindt has enough to cope with: the loss of his wife, his rebellious punk daughter and his father’s threat to stop the funding for his science research when he’s near to making a breakthrough with major implications for the arms industry.  Then a gipsy dies outside his family’s watch showroom, and he becomes caught up in the search for a Nazi-stolen statuette of the gipsy saint, Sara la Kali.

This crime novel moved smoothly between emotional family discoveries, Nazi theft, Roma history, science and thriller-style incidents.  The story begins with a 1943 prologue, in which the statuette is stolen from the gypsies, and the Roma theme gives a twist to the ‘stolen artefacts’ theme.  It is central to the narrative, with the author giving us both the conjectured history of the Roma people, and, through the story, a good deal of information about the modern tribes.  It was told in the third person, with Matthias as the main focus – a very likeable character, whose moral dilemma as he discovers his father’s involvement in laundering stolen Nazi artefacts is believably conveyed.  His daughter Liliane’s exploits give a change of narrator, and we also follow the police and main villains, which adds tension.  There are a number of twists to the narrative (I don’t want to spoil them) and the strands link together to make a harmonious whole.  The Zurich background moved from super-rich to seedy, and the 1980s background had me remembering forgotten details of that era. 

An enjoyable page-turner, lifted out of the ordinary by the Roma involvement.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

T S Learner.  Playwright and novelist T.S. Learner was born in the UK but has lived in Australia for many years and now divides her time between London, California and Sydney.

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.

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