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Wednesday, 24 June 2015

‘Persona Non Grata’ by Timothy Williams

Published by Soho Crime,
8 January 2015.
ISBN: 978-1-6169-5464-2

Northern Italy, 1985. Commissario Piero Trotti is called out to an unusual case: a young girl has been attacked in her bed. Her father’s able to ID the suspect – or at least the photofit he comes up with looks very like someone he has reason to dislike.

This fast-moving Italian PP follows Trotti as he searches for the truth in this case and in the old story of his brother’s death during the war. Verging on retirement, Trotti is admirable for his integrity and work ethic, and you sympathise with his loneliness now his wife has left him and his daughter’s absorbed in student life, but you can also see why he’s the persona non grata of the station – he drives his lieutenants hard on the boring work, and won’t let them do any of the fun stuff. The minor characters are also well-drawn: the quarrelsome Baronessa who looks after Trotti’s friend Fra Gianni, feminist and loyal officer Ciuffi, disenchanted Pisanelli. The short chapters keep the plot moving briskly, with plenty of twists, and the perp to each case is a neatly-convincing surprise. The Italian atmosphere is beautifully done: the colours, sounds, smells are described until you can feel the heat rising from the pages, and Williams’ stylish dialogue is a delight.

A stylish, atmospheric thriller. It reads well as a stand-alone, but you might like to start with the first in the Trotti series, Converging Parallels.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor
Timothy Williams was born 1946, in Walthamstoe, Essex. He attended Woodford Green Preparatory School, Chigwell School and St Andrews University. He has previously lived in France, Italy, and in Romania, where he worked for the British Council. He  is a bilingual British author who has written five novels in English featuring Commissario Piero Trotti, a character critics have referred to as a personification of modern Italy.

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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