Monday, 9 November 2015

The Dolls Criminal Travels: Northern Ireland, Libya and Italy

My dears, I have been travelling as usual. With my crime fiction reading that is.

Firstly I visited Northern Ireland with Stuart Neville's latest book, Those We Left Behind, built around DCI Serena Flanagan who appeared in his Jack Lennon book The Final Silence. (Neville has written a series featuring detective Jack Lennon whose perilous slide down the career ladder signifies the predicament us crime fans doubtless recognise - the hallmark of the independent but rackety, if not rocky, investigator who is tumbling towards a perilous edge. But do not doubt that I am a great follower of Lennon and hope he will return.) Those We Left... is a slight departure again. Although still full of suspense and chill, I think this book goes more deeply into psychological territory. It  deals with the consequences of the release from prison of nineteen year-old Ciaran Devine, after serving a seven year sentence for the murder of his foster father. A child "killer" released back into society where his older brother is waiting for him. The probation officer assigned to his case starts to have doubts about the brothers' relationship and she turns to DCI Flanagan who had gained Ciaran's trust and his confession those seven years before. It's a brilliant book in which Neville seems almost to have crossed into the realm usually the property of Scandinavian crime fiction - the dark psychological/socio-thriller. Read my review over on Euro Crime for more detail.

I also managed a long trip to Libya and Italy with Roberto Costantini's The Root Of All Evil. Make sure you have plenty of time and powers of concentration for this one. But if, like me, you have a liking for crime served up on a social, historical platter - it will be worth it. The second book in a trilogy featuring the frankly unlikeable Italian detective, Balistreri, this one runs from his youth in Tripoli as the son of an influential fascist family together with the run-up to Gaddafi's coup in 1969 and then Balistreri's investigations into a murder case in 1980s Italy. It's a case which starts to remind him of events in his Libyan youth. Detailed, painstakingly constructed, hard realities painted with neutral strokes (it is no mean feat to make readable a book which centres on an "unattractive" protagonist) this is a rewarding book. Again, you can read the full review over on Euro Crime. And you can also read a good interview with Costantini over on the Crime Thriller Fella blog.

Phew! I'd tell you of more foreign criminal adventures but I'm off to put my feet up. Be back soon.

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