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Friday 8 December 2017

‘The Mountain’ by Luca D’Andrea

Translated from the Italian by Howard Curtis
Published by Maclehose Press,
30 November 2017.
ISBN: 978-0-85705-690-0 (HB).  978-0-85705-691-7 (TPB)

Documentary scriptwriter Jeremiah Salinger has returned to his wife’s birthplace, the village of Siebenhoch, in the Italian Dolomites. A rescue that went horribly wrong leaves him with nightmares of ‘the Beast’ that lurks in the Bletterbach valley ... then he learns of the murders there.

Part thriller, part family story, constructed as the twistiest of whodunnits, and with a hint of fantasy as well, this gripping novel is narrated by Salinger. The reader gets to know him and his family: grandfather Werner, who founded the Mountain Rescue service, Salinger’s wife, Anneliese, and their lively daughter, Clara. The life of the village is also important, with scenes like the release of the Krampus on St Nicolas’ day vividly described. The interaction between Salinger and key villagers like Max, the local policeman, Hermann, the businessman, and Brigitte, the drunken ex-girlfriend of one of the men who found the bodies, is cleverly done, with city-man Salinger believing that he’s running rings round the locals, only to find the tables turned.

The novel begins with the rescue incident, goes back to explain how it began for thirty pages, then moves on to the story of the murders, except that the story threads are all woven together, so that Salinger’s determination to solve the murders impacts on his marriage, and the pre-publicity of his documentary about the mountain rescue team ruins his relationship with the villagers. The writing is smooth and vivid, the Italian setting a key part of the story and the frequent high-stakes action scenes make it hard to put down.

A cleverly-plotted, page-turning thriller with characters who draw you in, and a lot of action in a vividly-described Italian rural setting. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

Luca D'Andrea was born in 1979 Bolzano, Italy, where he worked as a teacher for ten years. The Mountain, the most talked-about and fastest-selling book at London Book Fair 2016, was sold in more than 30 countries before it was first published in Italy. D’Andrea worked as a documentary maker himself, producing the film The Mountain for Italian TV

Howard Curtis is an award-winning translator of Italian and French, including books by Fabio, Geda, Gianrico, Carofiglio, Jean- laude Izzo and Giorgio Scerbanenco.

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.

A review of her recent book Ghosts of the Vikings can be read here.

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