This year has been a good time for reading books, but not a good time as far as writing reviews goes and I am way behind. This is the second set of mini reviews in an attempt to catch up with the backlog.
Give Unto Others by Donna Leon 3*
I read this because I’ve read just a few of the Commissario Guido Brunetti crime fiction novels and enjoyed them. This one is described on Goodreads as follows:
The gifted Venetian detective returns in his 31st case – this time, investigating the Janus-faced nature of yet another Italian institution. Brunetti will have to once again face the blurred line that runs between the criminal and the non-criminal, bending police rules, and his own character, to help an acquaintance in danger.
This is an unusual mystery, slow to begin with then gradually gathering pace, as Brunetti unofficially agrees to do Elisabetta Foscarini, an ex-neighbour a favour. She is worried about her daughter’s husband, Enrico Fenzo an accountant, who she fears is in danger. Brunetti enlists the help of his colleagues Griffoni, Vianello, and Signorina Elettra with his investigations. What they uncover is a tangled web surrounding a South American charity that Fenzo had helped Elisabetta’s husband set up, the Belize nel Cuore, providing a hospital and medical services to the poor.
It was entertaining and I enjoyed the descriptions of Venice, just opening up to tourists again after the pandemic. I thought it would have been better as an official police investigation. But it does give an insight into the way charities are set up and can be misused. And there’s a particularly disturbing picture of what dementia can do to a person.
Not Dead Yet by Peter James 4*
I really enjoyed this book, the 8th Roy Grace book. If you’ve been watching the TV adaptation this story was the last one they produced, as usual with adaptations, with several differences from the book. As I’ve said before I prefer the books and this one was very good. This is the summary from Amazon:
The return of a Brighton girl turned movie star spells nothing but trouble for Detective Superintendent Roy Grace in the gripping crime novel Not Dead Yet, by award winning author Peter James.
Gaia Lafayette has a movie to shoot back home and Grace is in charge of her security. Yet when a vicious gangster is released from prison and an unidentifiable headless torso is found, a nightmare unfolds before Grace’s eyes.
An obsessed stalker is after Gaia – and Grace knows that they may be at large in his city, waiting, watching, planning . . .
It’s fast paced, complicated and totally gripping. I loved all the details of the scenes of the filming in Brighton’s Royal Pavilion and also the ongoing story of Roy’s missing wife. Now I’m looking forward to reading the 9th book in the series, Dead Man’s Time.
Snow Country by Sebastian Faulks 2*
This is the synopsis on Goodreads:
1914: Young Anton Heideck has arrived in Vienna, eager to make his name as a journalist. While working part-time as a private tutor, he encounters Delphine, a woman who mixes startling candour with deep reserve. Entranced by the light of first love, Anton feels himself blessed. Until his country declares war on hers.
1927: For Lena, life with a drunken mother in a small town has been impoverished and cold. She is convinced she can amount to nothing until a young lawyer, Rudolf Plischke, spirits her away to Vienna. But the capital proves unforgiving. Lena leaves her metropolitan dream behind to take a menial job at the snow-bound sanatorium, the Schloss Seeblick.
1933: Still struggling to come terms with the loss of so many friends on the Eastern Front, Anton, now an established writer, is commissioned by a magazine to visit the mysterious Schloss Seeblick. In this place of healing, on the banks of a silvery lake, where the depths of human suffering and the chances of redemption are explored, two people will see each other as if for the first time.
Sweeping across Europe as it recovers from one war and hides its face from the coming of another, SNOW COUNTRY is a landmark novel of exquisite yearnings, dreams of youth and the sanctity of hope. In elegant, shimmering prose, Sebastian Faulks has produced a work of timeless resonance.
I was disappointed by this novel, mainly because I found it quite dull in places, which I hadn’t expected from the synopsis or the 5 and 4 star reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads. The best defined character is Lena, but the others seem rather flat – one dimensional and hard to distinguish. This may, of course, be down to me as I found it rather muddled and I had to keep recapping just to clarify who they were. So, I struggled to read it and eventually lost interest. But I did finish it.