Book Review: The Pyramid of Mud by Andrea Camilleri

The Pyramid of Mud
An Inspector Montalbano Mystery #22
Andrea Camilleri
Translated by Stephen Sartarelli
Penguin, January 2018
ISBN: 978-0-143-12808-3
Trade Paperback

The discovery of the body of the chief accountant of a construction company in a sewer pipe on the development site is all the clue Inspector Montalbano needs to wonder what it’s all about, in this, the 22nd novel in this wonderfully understated series. Was the murder the result of his wife’s affair with her lover and being shot when catching them in the act?  Or a smokescreen created by a corrupt group of contractors?

This is but one of several questions to which the Inspector needs an answer before he can solve the murder.  And at the same time discover the goings-on in the area of construction and public works contracts.

As is usual in the series, the author exhibits many subtle touches, making the Inspector more human.  Beside his love of food, Montalbano shows signs of aging.  Is his hearing and sight going?  And he reminds himself, if that’s the case, it’s time to retire.  And his long distance love life with Livia.  In this novel she exhibits an illness or, perhaps, lethargy, until she gets a dog as a pet that keeps her hopping and bouncing back, giving rise to the old minor arguments with the Inspector on the telephone, which he enjoys, recognizing it as a symptom of recovery.

Recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, January 2018.

A Handful of Teeny Reviews

The Fourth SecretThe Fourth Secret
An Inspector Montalbano Mystery
Andrea Camilleri
Mondadori/Open Road Integrated Media, November 2014
ISBN 978-1-4976-8646-5
Ebook

From the publisher—

In the latest mystery featuring Inspector Montalbano, a deadly accident at a building site prompts a search with shocking revelations 

“Yesterday morning around seven thirty, an Albanian construction worker, age thirty-eight, Pashko Puka, a legal resident with a work permit, hired by the Santa Maria construction company owned by Alfredo Corso, fell from a scaffold that had been erected during the construction of an apartment building in Tonnarello, between Vigata and Montelusa. His coworkers, who immediately rushed to his aid, unfortunately discovered he had died.

There have been six events euphemistically called “tragedies in the workplace” in the past month. Six deaths caused by an inexplicable disregard for safety regulations. When the local magistrate opens an investigation, Inspector Montalbano is on the case. But Montalbano soon discovers that these seemingly unrelated incidents are only part of a larger network of crimes.

Over the years, I have enjoyed the Inspector Montalbano books but this novella really doesn’t stand up to the rest of the series. I found that puzzling because, while Montalbano doesn’t have the pleasing personality of, say, Commissario Guido Brunetti (Donna Leon’s protagonist) or Chief of Police Bruno (Martin Walker), he has never struck me as inept or unpleasant. This time he did.

I had an interest in the investigation from the beginning because of the questions surrounding a warning letter and, of all things, a pedicure, but the story was marred for me by two things, the overuse of profanity and the introduction of characters without any sort of explanation as to who they are or why most of them are surly and almost irrational. It felt as though this plotline was lifted from the middle of a full-length novel.

Then, the lightbulb went off. As it turns out, this was actually written years ago so the characters have not enjoyed the growth and evolution that they have when reading the series in order. The second and far more important problem is the translation from the original Italian. Most of the books are quite well done but the same can not be said of this and it is, in fact, a different translator. Sentences are choppy and sometimes make little sense and the translator did not have a thorough understanding of English. It’s just not a top-notch translation and there’s no doubt that hurts the reader’s reception of the characters and the plot.

In the end, while this is certainly not the worst thing I ever read, it’s not a good representation of the enjoyment to be found in the series as a whole. I’d suggest that anyone meeting Inspector Montalbano with this novella ignore it and start over with the first full-length book, The Shape of Water.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2014.

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The Iggy ChroniclesThe Iggy Chronicles, Volume One
A Chet and Bernie Mystery eShort Story
Spencer Quinn
Atria Unbound/Atria Books, August 2013
ISBN 978-1-4767-0360-2
Ebook

From the publisher—

Iggy is a dog who doesn’t get out much, so it’s big news when elderly Mr. Parsons knocks on Bernie’s door to say that Iggy has vanished. In the search for Iggy, Chet and Bernie find Mrs. Parsons unconscious on her bedroom floor, in need of urgent medical care. But it’s only when they arrive at the hospital that things get really interesting.

With a jewel thief making short work of hospital patients’ valuables, it seems that Iggy is not alone in disappearing right out from under somebody’s nose. Suspects are plentiful and witnesses are few. But when little Iggy reappears, tail wagging, it turns out he holds the key to solving the entire affair.

There’s a pet food commercial on TV that features a number of dogs running and leaping. I don’t remember the name of the product but I love to watch the dogs and, every time I see it, I just naturally think of Chet because he takes such joy in life, the way those dogs look like they’re doing. Chet—and, of course, Bernie—are two of my favorite detectives and it’s always a treat to see them again.

This time, their neighbor dog (and Chet’s pal), Iggy, has disappeared and his owner is desperate to find him for his very ill wife. Bernie and Chet take on the job and soon find a second mystery to look into. Our heroes make short work of all this (after all, this IS a short story) and I was quite satisfied with this little visit with the guys.

Fair warning to those who count pages—this story takes up 24 0f the 45 pages and the rest is a blurb and excerpt of the following novel, The Sound and the Furry, along with a few other things.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2014.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AmbitionAmbition
A Perception Series Prequel
Lee Strauss
Elle Strauss, November 2012
Ebook

From the author—

AMBITION is a short story (5k) prequel to PERCEPTION, capturing the beginning of Noah and Zoe’s story from Noah’s POV.

Eighteen year old Noah Brody doesn’t like GAPs—Genetically Altered Persons. He’s taken up his dead father’s cause, speaking out and protesting against unfair GAP policies that are responsible for the massive social divide between wealthy GAPs and poorer naturals.

If only he could keep his mind off of perfect Zoe Vanderveen, daughter of the GAP family his mother works for.

And can he really fill his father’s shoes?

About a year and a half ago, I read and reviewed a book called Perception, first in a trilogy. It was a young adult dystopian but not at all typical of the subgenre. Usually, these stories revolve around a repressive society and an underlying resistance from the people being downtrodden. In this case, though, the tale centers on class division brought about be genetic alteration that gives a small portion of the populace distinct advantages in appearance, wealth, lifespan, etc. The two primary characters are Zoe, a GAP, and Noah, a natural. The two are worlds apart in status and privilege.

Ambition offers us a brief look at what Noah is all about and his ambivalence about the cause.  He has a near-hatred of the GAPs but how much of his feeling is “inherited” from his father who spoke out for justice and how much due to his beginning attraction to Zoe who doesn’t even remember his name? It reminded me of what I liked about this young man when I read Perception and these few pages have enticed me to get back to the trilogy as soon as I can.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2014.

 

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The Chapel PerilousThe Chapel Perilous
A Tale of the Iron Druid Chronicles
Kevin Hearne
Kevin Hearne, January 2014
Previously published in Unfettered, 2013
ISBN 978-0-9914238-0-4
Ebook

From the author—

Ancient Druid Atticus O’Sullivan has had plenty of adventures during his long life, and in “The Chapel Perilous” he shares one of them with his apprentice, Granuaile. He lays out the true story of the quest for the Holy Grail, in which he was personally involved—and the events of which are quite different from the Christian tale most people know today.

While on an errand for Ogma to recover the Dagda’s Cauldron, Atticus confronts evil at a mysterious chapel, takes the first steps to becoming the Iron Druid, and learns the shocking truth about goblin fashion choices.

He was, of course, in terrible peril.

The adventures of Atticus and his faithful hound, Oberon, have entertained me mightily since the very first book, Hounded (although I’m a little less enthused with the most recent one, Shattered) and the accompanying novellas and short stories are always fun, too. The Chapel Perilous continues the tradition.

The whole idea of a Holy Grail that isn’t quite the same Holy Grail we all know about is wonderful, made even more so because it’s set way back before Atticus became the Iron Druid with so much power. There’s not a lot of Oberon in this story and, since I adore him, that made me a little sad at first but then this other critter shows up that had me laughing out loud.  Apple Jack is worth the story all by himself and, even if you’ve never read any of the chronicles, you can still enjoy this fellow.

Is this short story as engaging as the novels? No, of course not, as it’s not possible to have much depth in such a few pages but it’s a nice fill-in between books.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2014.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Honor CodeHonor Code
Cathy Perkins
Cathy Perkins, December 2012
ISBN 978-1481035897
Trade Paperback

From the author—

In a small southern town where everyone knows each other’s business, veteran detective Larry Robbins must solve the disappearance of eighty-year-old widower George Beason.

When evidence arises that Beason may have left town on his own, it would be easy for Robbins to close the case, but his gut instinct tells him more’s at stake. As he uncovers clues about Beason’s deceased wife and his estranged daughter, Robbins must untangle conflicting motives and hidden agendas to bring Beason home alive.

A missing man, a murdered pet, a cop’s family issues, retribution—they’re all here in this novella, a standalone. When George Beason disappears and his home seems to have been ransacked, Detective Larry Robbins and his young partner, Jerry Jordan, are puzzled as to whether a crime has occurred or a slovenly old man has simply wandered off but there are enough unresolved questions to keep Robbins looking for answers. The daughter that should be concerned is much less than helpful and it’s hints that older crimes may come into play that draw Robbins and Jordan further into the investigation, even after Beason is caught on a security camera, apparently unharmed.

Reaching back into the past, to events in Baghdad, the author reminds us of how the past is never completely done and can have far-reaching effects many years later. At the same time, family honor sometimes takes precedence over all else but a not quite completely jaded cop can still make a difference in his community. It’s this aspect of Larry Robbins that drew me into the story more than the crimes themselves and I hope we’ll see more of him some day.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2014.

Book Reviews: Treasure Hunt by Andrea Camilleri and Breaking Point by C. J. Box

Treasure HuntTreasure Hunt
An Inspector Montalbano Mystery #16
Andrea Camilleri
Translated by Stephen Sartarelli
Viking, October 2013
ISBN: 978-0-143-12262-3
Trade Paperback

This is the 16th Sicilian mystery featuring Inspector Salvo Montalbano. In the early going in the novel, the Inspector finds himself bored, with nary a crime worthy of his talents, much less a murder; the author calls him a “police inspector with a brilliant past, no matter dull his present.” But it becomes somewhat less boring as the book opens – – an elderly brother and sister, religious fanatics both, open fire on the main square of the village, determined to punish the people of Vigata for their sins. When Montalbano is caught on camera scaling the building, gun in hand, to put an end to the scene, he is hailed as a hero. His own reaction, after searching the apartment, is one of shock, when he discovers rooms filled with crucifixes and shrines and an apparently aged inflatable sex doll. To say that this opening scene has unexpected repercussions later in the novel is an understatement.

Montalbano, now fifty-seven, is a man who is always aware of when he ate his last meal and savors each one; who occasionally has his inner selves arguing, like an angel and a devil perched on each shoulder, and takes to cursing the saints when frustrated. And is an absolutely terrific protagonist. He has two more or less regular women in his life, Ingrid, a former race-car mechanic, described as his “Swedish friend, confidante, and sometimes accomplice,” and Livia, with whom he has a long-distance romance: She lives in Genoa.

Boredom soon is replaced with the worst kind of crime to be solved: The apparent kidnapping of a beautiful 18-year-old girl, with no clues as to the identity of the kidnapper. Montalbano finds himself up against “a criminal mind the likes of which he had never encountered before.”

Not long after the opening scenes, he becomes the recipient of envelopes marked to his personal attention, each containing crudely constructed poems, riddles setting him on the eponymous hunt, soon devolving into a duel between two very sharp minds. Until with the third and fourth missives the seemingly innocuous game becomes suddenly threatening or, as the Inspector puts it, takes a “curious turn.”

The plot is fascinating, the tale told, despite the darkness of the plot, with great good humor and fascinating characters, e.g., the Inspector’s switchboard operator, Catarella, from whose mouth come words like “nickpick” (picnic), and “Beckin’ yer partin” (for ‘begging your pardon,” but you figured that out already). This was a very entertaining novel, and is highly recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, May 2014.

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Breaking PointBreaking Point
A Joe Pickett Novel #13
C.J. Box
Berkley, March 2014
ISBN: 978-0-425-26460-7
Mass Market Paperback

One thing you can always count on in a Joe Pickett novel: The environment and topography of Wyoming plays a vital part in the plot. This book is no exception. Breaking Point starts with an actual true story as its foundation: the Sackett Case, by which the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 9-0 ruling, declared that the EPA had overstepped in its dealings with the Idaho family.

Similarly, the regional director of the EPA in Denver, began an action against Butch and Pam Roberson, acquaintances of Joe and Marybeth Pickett, setting off a maelstrom in its wake, including four deaths, a forest fire of monumental proportions, and a variety of other results. When two agents serving a compliance order arrived at a plot on which Butch was starting to build a retirement home, they were shot and buried on the property, and Butch fled into the mountains. A massive effort led by the regional director to capture Butch was begun, with Joe forced to guide a posse of agents in his wake.

This reader could envision a much different conclusion than the one the author chose, but up until that point, I found the novel powerful, especially the forest fire scenes and Joe’s efforts to return from the mountain. It is a riveting description of the wilderness, and Joe’s return apparently sets the stage for his future efforts. Recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, March 2014.

Book Reviews: The Age of Doubt by Andrea Camilleri, Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear, Capitol Murder by Phillip Margolin, and The Riptide Ultra-Glide by Tim Dorsey

The Age of DoubtThe Age of Doubt
Andrea Camilleri
Translated by Stephen Sartarelli
Penguin, June 2012
ISBN 978-0-14-312092-6
Trade Paperback

The books in the Inspector Montalbano series usually are lighthearted stories about the Sicilian detective combined with a mystery for him to solve.  However, while in this novel he does have a mystery to solve, this entry reflects more of his introspection.  The contrasts are intriguing, to say the least.  It begins when the Inspector rescues a bespectacled, rather mousy woman whose car is about to be swallowed into a chasm, or sinkhole, created in a collapsed road.  She tells him she’s the niece of a rich widow whose yacht is about to enter port.

When the boat does enter the port, it brings with it a corpse and a dinghy retrieved at the mouth of the harbor. The victim’s face was smashed, and the fingerprints are not on file, making identification extremely difficult.  The yacht docks alongside a luxury craft, whose crew appears suspicious. This leads Montalbano on a convoluted investigation based on information – – or misinformation – – the woman has given him.

As usual, the Inspector’s lusty appetite is exhibited, with descriptions of lunches and dinners at his favorite restaurant, or dishes left for him to heat in the oven by his housekeeper.  Perhaps more poignant is a side story about the 58-year-old Inspector’s possible love interest, a beautiful young woman Coast Guard lieutenant he meets during the investigation.  It makes him even more human as a character, lightening what would otherwise be a heavy murder mystery.

Recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, December 2012.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Elegy for EddieElegy for Eddie
Jacqueline Winspear
Harper Perennial, October 2012
ISBN: 978-0-06-204958-2
Trade Paperback

The Maisie Dobbs series, now with nine entries, has taken her from World War I, where she served as a nurse, to the cusp of the Second World War.  In this novel, there are three themes which can tend to confuse the reader until the author brings them together and makes sense out of what at first appear to be separate subplots.

To start with, a delegation from Lambeth, scene of Maisie’s childhood, visits her to engage her services as an investigator to find out how a young man died in a paper factory.  The other two plot lines, one more personal to her than the other, has Maisie questioning her own motives and standards as well as her relationship with her lover; and the last involving the stealth campaign of Winston Churchill to prepare Great Britain for the possible war with Nazi Germany.

The book is equal to its predecessors in characterization and human interest.  Obviously, it is more political in tone than its forerunners, given the time in which it takes place: the depression era and rise of Adolf Hitler.  While Maisie’s introspections may be overdone, they certainly are in keeping with the character.

Recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, October 2012.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Capitol MurderCapitol Murder
Phillip Margolin
Harper, December 2012
ISBN 978-0-0620-6999-0
Premium Mass Market Paperback

The fact that the author long served as a defense attorney in 30 murder trials permeates this tale of terrorism, murder and treason. It is the third novel featuring Brad Miller, an attorney; his wife, Ginny, also an attorney; and Dana Cutler, a dogged private investigator and sometime reporter for a sleazy Washington supermarket scandal sheet.  In previous books, their investigation revealed the role of a President in a series of murders and saved the life of a Supreme Court Justice while preventing a CIA plot to fix a case before the Court.

Now Brad is serving as the legislative assistant to the U.S. Senator from Oregon and Ginny is working at the Department of Justice. Murders in Oregon and the District of Columbia seem to implicate an escaped serial murderer, one of whose previous convictions Brad helped to overturn.  But, of course, nothing is what it appears to be.  A terrorist plot surpassing the Twin Towers destruction completes the story, uniting all the elements.

The plot is pretty much humdrum, and the characterizations less than fully developed, but Mr. Margolin certainly knows how to spin a narrative.  In the end, he makes sense out of the diverse elements in an interesting manner.  It is, perhaps, a light read, but still one that is recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, December 2012.

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The Riptide Ultra-GlideThe Riptide Ultra-Glide
Tim Dorsey
Morrow, February 2013
ISBN:  978-0-06-209278-6
Hardcover

There’s nothing sane about a novel featuring Serge A. Storms and his sidekick, Coleman.  There usually is a plot, but the real show is the madcap escapades and far-out situations described.  And no less so are the irreverent observations from Serge’s mouth. Too numerous to mention.

As in the former entries in the series, this novel takes place in Florida, giving Serge the opportunity to hold forth on the many locales and highlights of the State.  It begins with Serge and Coleman driving down to the Keys, filming what is to be a reality show on a camcorder.  And the rest of the book, of course, turns out to be surreal, when a couple of teachers from Wisconsin lose their job and decide to go to the Sunshine State on vacation.  Instead they become embroiled in the midst of two gangs fighting for control of drug traffic.  It remains for Serge to rescue them.

The novels in this series are not particularly easy reading because much of the time Serge’s observations and comments are so outlandish that the reader has to stop and regroup.  But, crazy as it sounds, most of the time they make sense.  Nevertheless, a Serge A. Storms novel is always enjoyable.  And recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, January 2013.

Ted Feit’s Book Review Roundup

Burn
Nevada Barr
Minotaur Books, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-312-61456-0
Hardcover

It is likely that fans of the Anna Pigeon series might be put off by several aspects of this novel.  To begin with, it takes place in the urban setting of New Orleans rather than the accustomed [for this series] wide open spaces of a national park.  Then there is the topic: not only child abuse, but child sex and white slavery.  Also there is much, if not excessive, violence (which does not mean that there has not been some in previous entries).

With that said, we can turn our attention to Burn.  It is an intriguing work, albeit somewhat heavy-handed.  Anna is on leave to recover from some sort of mental breakdown, visiting a friend in the Big Easy.  Instead she becomes involved in what appears to be a voodoo curse as well as assisting a stranger in recovering her daughters, apparently kidnapped to be imprisoned in a sex emporium.

This reader found the novel slow to read and bogged down in a lot of unnecessary detail.  The plot – – child sex – – certainly is worthy of an important look, and the book does achieve that aim.  Somewhat confusing to this reader were the various descriptions of the “character” changes in the distraught mother, a professional actress, as she takes on each role as the situation arises.  On the whole, however, it is an interesting read, and recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, November 2010.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Track of Sand
Andrea Camilleri
Translated by Stephen Sartarelli
Penguin Books, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-14-311793-3
Trade Paperback

Strange dreams and perfect intuition and logic are the keys to solving a mystery in this Inspector Montalbano novel.  It seems that even when he is asleep he can proceed with an investigation with dispatch.

He awakens one day and looks out of his beach house to see a bludgeoned horse lying in the sand.  When his men arrive after his call to investigate, the horse has disappeared.  In short order, Rachele, an equestrian champion rider, and Saverio Lo Duca, one of the richest men in Sicily, each report a missing horse.  Which one was the horse the inspector sighted?

In consultation with Fazio, a colleague, Montalbano learns of a clandestine horse racing scheme operated by the mafia.  Meanwhile, several burglary attempts take place at the inspector’s house, as well as an arson attempt.  What, if any, is the connection to the investigation?  With his customary unorthodox methodology, the inspector proceeds to unravel all the possibilities.

With humor and charm, the author writes a procedural of a different kind:  one which is full of good food, good-looking women and lots of fun.  Eat, drink and read hearty.

Recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, November 2010.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

She Felt No Pain
Lou Allin
RendezVous Crime, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-926607-07-8
Trade Paperback

RCMP Corporal Holly Martin, newly transferred to Vancouver Island, faces adjustment to her new command, along with encountering her own past along the way.  The reader is treated to all kinds of descriptions of the island in all its glory.

Almost incidentally, a mystery unfolds when an apparently homeless man is found dead of what looks like a drug overdose.  An autopsy shows a deadly combination of heroin and a potent synthetic opiate, a deadly combination. Holly soon discovers something the man had hidden near the site of his death, and she struggles to find its meaning. At the same time, Holly is encouraged by her elderly aunt to investigate the disappearance of her mother many years before.

Slowly, Holly begins to look into the background of the homeless man, uncovering his relationship with a sister and aunt still living on the island.  Consequently, Holly is able to begin piecing together the background story and investigate the possibility of murder.  The author concentrates on developing the story against the raw beauty of
nature and environment, which not only provide a truly forceful setting for the plot, but also a powerful conclusion.

Recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, November 2010.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Evidence of Murder
Lisa Black
Harper, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-06-154450-7
Mass Market Paperback

Persistence is a virtue, and Theresa MacLean, a forensic scientist in the M.E.’s office exhibits plenty of that in this novel in which she still has not recovered from the death of her fiancé.  A young woman has been found frozen to death on the shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland and there are almost no clues as to the cause of death.  She left behind a husband of three weeks and a young baby.

Theresa smells a rat and she can’t let go of the case.  She learns that the baby has received a $1.5 million inheritance from its grandparents and Theresa suspects that the baby’s life is in danger because of the money.  But unless she can prove murder, and she can’t seem to find any evidence, there might be another death in the near future.

This reader found the book slow reading, bogged down in minutiae and over-detailed descriptions, especially of forensics procedures.  But for this criticism, it is an interesting and well-drawn plot, with an exciting but rather implausible conclusion.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, November 2010.

Ted Feit's Book Review Roundup

Burn
Nevada Barr
Minotaur Books, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-312-61456-0
Hardcover

It is likely that fans of the Anna Pigeon series might be put off by several aspects of this novel.  To begin with, it takes place in the urban setting of New Orleans rather than the accustomed [for this series] wide open spaces of a national park.  Then there is the topic: not only child abuse, but child sex and white slavery.  Also there is much, if not excessive, violence (which does not mean that there has not been some in previous entries).

With that said, we can turn our attention to Burn.  It is an intriguing work, albeit somewhat heavy-handed.  Anna is on leave to recover from some sort of mental breakdown, visiting a friend in the Big Easy.  Instead she becomes involved in what appears to be a voodoo curse as well as assisting a stranger in recovering her daughters, apparently kidnapped to be imprisoned in a sex emporium.

This reader found the novel slow to read and bogged down in a lot of unnecessary detail.  The plot – – child sex – – certainly is worthy of an important look, and the book does achieve that aim.  Somewhat confusing to this reader were the various descriptions of the “character” changes in the distraught mother, a professional actress, as she takes on each role as the situation arises.  On the whole, however, it is an interesting read, and recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, November 2010.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Track of Sand
Andrea Camilleri
Translated by Stephen Sartarelli
Penguin Books, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-14-311793-3
Trade Paperback

Strange dreams and perfect intuition and logic are the keys to solving a mystery in this Inspector Montalbano novel.  It seems that even when he is asleep he can proceed with an investigation with dispatch.

He awakens one day and looks out of his beach house to see a bludgeoned horse lying in the sand.  When his men arrive after his call to investigate, the horse has disappeared.  In short order, Rachele, an equestrian champion rider, and Saverio Lo Duca, one of the richest men in Sicily, each report a missing horse.  Which one was the horse the inspector sighted?

In consultation with Fazio, a colleague, Montalbano learns of a clandestine horse racing scheme operated by the mafia.  Meanwhile, several burglary attempts take place at the inspector’s house, as well as an arson attempt.  What, if any, is the connection to the investigation?  With his customary unorthodox methodology, the inspector proceeds to unravel all the possibilities.

With humor and charm, the author writes a procedural of a different kind:  one which is full of good food, good-looking women and lots of fun.  Eat, drink and read hearty.

Recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, November 2010.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

She Felt No Pain
Lou Allin
RendezVous Crime, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-926607-07-8
Trade Paperback

RCMP Corporal Holly Martin, newly transferred to Vancouver Island, faces adjustment to her new command, along with encountering her own past along the way.  The reader is treated to all kinds of descriptions of the island in all its glory.

Almost incidentally, a mystery unfolds when an apparently homeless man is found dead of what looks like a drug overdose.  An autopsy shows a deadly combination of heroin and a potent synthetic opiate, a deadly combination. Holly soon discovers something the man had hidden near the site of his death, and she struggles to find its meaning. At the same time, Holly is encouraged by her elderly aunt to investigate the disappearance of her mother many years before.

Slowly, Holly begins to look into the background of the homeless man, uncovering his relationship with a sister and aunt still living on the island.  Consequently, Holly is able to begin piecing together the background story and investigate the possibility of murder.  The author concentrates on developing the story against the raw beauty of
nature and environment, which not only provide a truly forceful setting for the plot, but also a powerful conclusion.

Recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, November 2010.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Evidence of Murder
Lisa Black
Harper, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-06-154450-7
Mass Market Paperback

Persistence is a virtue, and Theresa MacLean, a forensic scientist in the M.E.’s office exhibits plenty of that in this novel in which she still has not recovered from the death of her fiancé.  A young woman has been found frozen to death on the shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland and there are almost no clues as to the cause of death.  She left behind a husband of three weeks and a young baby.

Theresa smells a rat and she can’t let go of the case.  She learns that the baby has received a $1.5 million inheritance from its grandparents and Theresa suspects that the baby’s life is in danger because of the money.  But unless she can prove murder, and she can’t seem to find any evidence, there might be another death in the near future.

This reader found the book slow reading, bogged down in minutiae and over-detailed descriptions, especially of forensics procedures.  But for this criticism, it is an interesting and well-drawn plot, with an exciting but rather implausible conclusion.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, November 2010.