Have read three very good crime/thrillers over the last week or so and have decided to do a round up of these in one post.
The Fatal Touch - Conor Fitzgerald. This is the second in a new series set in Rome and featuring Commissioner Alec Blume, an American born Italian citizen who remained in Italy after his parents died and who joined the police and has risen through the ranks. Not quite the usual maverick we come to expect in detective stories, but with a will of his own and an integrity and way of doing things that is not always popular. A body is discovered in the Piazza de Renzi early one morning - he is the local drunk and as he has not been robbed, it would appear a tragic but unsurprising accident. Needless to say it proves to be anything but and when it is discovered that the dead man is a painter and a master forger of old masters, then more investigation is needed. Blume discovers notebooks in the dead man's studio in which secrets which have been hidden for years are about to be revealed, including the fact that the forger and his business partner once cheated the Mafia by selling them a forged painting.
Twists and turns and devious characters including one Colonel Farinelli of the art fraud department of the Questore who is more involved than he cares to admit, and is very keen indeed to track down and destroy the notebooks.
A lot of detailed description of how a forger works, the tricks he uses to recreate the aged paper and the pigments of the paint and all fascinating, as are the extracts from the hidden notebooks. Took me a while to get into The Fatal Touch but once I did I really enjoyed it. The first Alec Blume novel, The Dogs of Rome was reviewed by me last year and this series looks as if it will run. I do hope so.
Bad Boy - Peter Robinson. My sister was reading one of this author's books when she was staying with me a few weeks ago and she said how good they were. I made a mental note of the name and then, coincidentally, a copy of his latest dropped through my letter box courtesy of Hodder (thank you Hodder) and picked it up and sat down and read stragith through. D C Banks is the detective in this series and, true to form, is divorced, likes a drink and is estragned from his daughter. Same old, same old really but, once again, good writing can imbue these stock characters with interest and flesh them out and I was soon engrossed.
As this is the latest paperback and I know nothing of what went on before, I understand that Alan Banks is on holiday recovering from the trauma of a previous case and while he is away an old neighbour calls into the police station. Her daughter has been mied up with a boyfriend she is not happy about and, when tidying up her daughter's room, she found a gun hidden in the wardrobe. She wants Alan to come and help and to sort this out, but instead finds that she has unleashed a full police procedure which will result in a tragic death. By the time DCI Banks returns from his holiday it is to learn that his daughter Tracy, has disappeared with the owner of the gun and he does not know if she has gone of her own free will or has been taken hostage.
Rattled along, lots of action, great stuff and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Best of all, I have checked inside the book and delighted to see that there are another eighteen DCI Banks stories all waiting for me. Calloo Callay o Frabjous Day. Lots of reading enjoyment ahead of me Hodder, dear kind people...........
And my third, Fragile Minds - Claire Seeber. Sent to me by Avon Publishing this is published on 21 April as a paperback original. A bomb has exploded outside the Royal Academy of Ballet in the heart of London and the police suspect a terrorist group. But this is misleading and investigation by the DCI Joe Silver (gosh there is a familiar name for a detective) soon turns up links to the Daughters of Light, a group which seems to draw members from he Ballet School and, particularly, to one teacher who turns out to be not who she has pretended to be.
Mixed up in all this is the physiotherapist of the school, Claudie, who is suffering from a terrible tragedy of her own. She has blackouts and, as she was in the square when the bomb exploded, is frightened that she might have had something to do with it. If only she could remember...
Well plotted and interesting book and I enjoyed it with one or two caveats. Claudie seems to plunge into unconcsicousness, or crash to the floor in a faint a bit too often for plausibility and, while I find Joe Silver an interesting character, I feel I would like him more if the author could rid him of the habit of calling everyone 'Kiddo'.
So three very different but equally gripping thrillers and three titles of all lovers of this genre to watch out for.