Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Nick Drake - Tutankhamun

This is the second in the series featuring Rahotep, detective in ancient Egypt. The first book concerned Nefertiti, see below, we now move on to the reign of Tutankhamun.

This novel was fast paced, and despite us knowing the story had some interesting 'takes' on the plot surrounding the death of Tut. It was also nicely interwoven with the solving of the crimes perpetrated by a serial killer, which gave the book some suspense.

This is shaping up to be a great series and a must for anyone interested in the time. I look forward to the next. A great holiday read....

Monday, 12 April 2010

Michele Guittari - A Florentine Death

I am still in Florence mode I took these on holiday with me. Michele is the former head of the Florence police and so these books are very more police procedural and forensic. More Kathy Reichs than Agatha Christie.
This first book introduces us to our detective Michele Ferrara. It concerns a serial killer. It also describes the activities of the mafia! I really enjoyed it. However the language seemed a little stilted and the dialogue did not flow so well. I wondered whether it was because he was not a natural writer or whether is was the translation. I felt he needed to bulk it up a bit to make the most of the location.

I also took with me the second book in the series and I think that may be what the editor worked on. Here we discovered a lot more of the town and landscape and the language improved and flowed better. This was an excellent read and very gripping. It involved a paedophile ring. We also kept up the theme of uncovering the dealings of the Mafia. A thoroughly and absorbing read, a very exciting ending.

This is the third in the series and gets off to a cracking start with a bomb in the centre of Florence. I feel Michele has really got into the genre now of writing not only a gripping crime novel, a police procedural but also a tourist satisfying read with all the restaurants, bars and sights described. Think, a grittier Donna Leon.

I am really looking forward to the next installment. They are good to read in order as the characters progress, change and move on as the series progresses!

Christobel Kent - A Time of Mourning

I am a big fan of Christobel Kent, mainly because she sets her books in Italy! I have just been to Florence so I read this as a teaser before I went.
I have read A Party in San Niccolo,The Summer House, and A Florentine Revenge previously.
In this book Christobel focuses on the policeman from A Florentine Revenge and it looks like this is to be the start of a series. I like it because she clearly knows and loves Florence so we get a real feel for the city. Also her detective Sandro, now a private detective due to the events in the previous novel, is so human with real characteristics and flaws, you really feel that you are inside a real person. A great read, an old fashioned crime novel, little blood and no forensics, just good detection......

Sarah Waters - The Little Stranger

I don't know what it is but I just do not like books that are nominated for awards any more. This book seems to have been nominated for loads of things so I had high hopes. I have also read Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith and loved them.

Sarah writes beautifully, and her characters are well crafted, however it is the subject matter that failed to live up to my expectations. The trouble is this is a haunted house story and all the way through I had this sense of deja vu. ( I have read a very similar book, The Thirteenth Tale and really enjoyed it see below). The focus on the dying of a way of life, as reflected in the metaphor of the neglected and falling apart house was also well done. This is post WW2 Britain and it is this inability of the aristocratic family to change that causes the problems. I can only assume it is from this angle that the book has been nominated.

Although as I said the characters were well drawn, none of them were very likeable and therefor I was not invested in any of them. The haunting frankly was not very scary and I just wanted to slap most of the characters.

However, for this reason I think it would make a good Reading Group book as if I had this reaction I am sure there are equally many people who think it is excellent, so it should make for a great debate.