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Tuesday 10 May 2022

‘Requiem in La Rossa’ by Tom Benjamin

Published by Constable,
5th May 2022.
ISBN: 978-14721-3164-5 (PBO)

I have previously read and thoroughly enjoyed The Hunting Season – the second novel in Benjamin’s series featuring Daniel Leicester, an English expat working as a private detective in his father-in-law’s family-run agency in Bologna – and was delighted to read Requiem in La Rosa.

A university professor is attacked and subsequently dies after being threatened by a young drug addict. The young man is arrested, and Daniel is hired to investigate to find out what really happened. Barely has Daniel begun when he himself is arrested and he finds himself in gaol alongside the young man. It quickly becomes clear that uncovering the truth about what happened is going to be a complex process. The professor’s murder is just the tip of the iceberg, and the real criminal will go to any lengths to achieve his or her end.

This was another novel to savour and had everything I love about Benjamin’s series. A tense complex plot with a great many strands that take unpredictable twists to keep you guessing to the end when everything draws together in a satisfactory conclusion. Fully rounded characters that leap off the page with all their faults and failings as well as courage, determination and loyalty, captivate the reader and most-importantly, develop. Both Daniel and Delores appear to be more confident and assured in their roles in the family orientated detective agency than in the previous novel. Daniel’s relationship with Stella, his daughter’s art teacher, is now firmly established and he becomes aware of the growing attraction between two other members of the agency staff. I also enjoyed learning more about Daniel’s fifteen-year-old daughter Rose who takes a more prominent role in this novel.

Benjamin’s love of his adopted city of Bologna which boasts Italy’s oldest university shines through on every page. Set in a steaming summer shaken by tremors from the near-by volcano, the glorious history, architecture, culture and food of the city sit alongside the machinations, pomposity and rivalries of its academia. I was so hooked on story, I read the whole novel in a couple of days despite trying to make it last as I didn’t want it to end. 

Reviewer: Judith Cranswick

Tom Benjamin started off as a reporter covering crime in North London. After a stint on the nationals, he joined Scotland Yard as one of its famous spokesmen. He went on to pursue a career in international aid before emigrating to Italy, where he credits his language skills on the time he spent working as a bouncer on the door of a homeless canteen. A Quiet Death inItaly was the first in a series featuring Bologna-based gumshoe Daniel Leicester, it was published in May 2020. The Hunting Season was published in November 2020. Requiem in La Rosso is his latest in the series.

Judith Cranswick was born and brought up in Norwich. Apart from writing, Judith’s great passions are travel and history. Both have influenced her two series of mystery novels. Tour Manager, Fiona Mason takes coach parties throughout Europe, and historian Aunt Jessica is the guest lecturer accompanying tour groups visiting more exotic destinations aided by her nephew Harry. Her published novels also include several award-winning standalone psychological thrillers. She wrote her first novel (now languishing in the back of a drawer somewhere) when her two children were toddlers, but there was little time for writing when she returned to her teaching career. Now retired, she is able to indulge her love of writing and has begun a life of crime! ‘Writers are told to write what they know about, but I can assure you, I've never committed a murder. I'm an ex-convent school headmistress for goodness sake!
Judith's most recent book is
Peril in Persia  Click on the title to read the review.

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