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Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Books: The Salati Case - Tobias Jones

Star rating - 6/10

OK maybe nothing to do with either London or Manchester culture per se - I contend that as I read this Italian set crime novel between the two cities, it qualifies as an entry on my blog.

This is apparently the first book in a new crime series by Jones about the private investigator Castagnetti, who we find here investigating the case of a disappearance some years ago with a view to clearing up an inheritance issue. I have to say I do love crime books with a clear sense of place, and also which give us an insight into the pleasures and foibles of the main investigator. Great examples of the genre I think are Rankin's Rebus and Camilleri's Montalbano, which make Edinburgh and Sicily respectively really come alive on the page and have kept me gripped throughout the series and longing for more.

Jones does not achieve this same trick successfully enough for me. Whilst we do get the feel for Castagnetti's bee keeping hobby and personal mode of retreat, this is not brought out in enough detail. I did not really come away from the book knowing much about him, or even wanting to find out much more about what made him tick. Also, the author does not bring Italy to life through the tale enough for my tastes.

I found the crime story, as it unfolded, interesting enough to keep my attention, although a little difficult to follow in places. Some of Castagnetti's methods are, as all good exponents of this type of activity tend to be, a little unorthodox, although some of the stunts he pulls spill over into the realm of incredulity for me. However creative one has to be in the world of Italian crime investigation and corruption, I am just not sure that Castagnetti would get away with behaving as he does in places in the book.

So a fair if not brilliant start to his exploits. Hopefully the character of Castagnetti will develop over future instalments, as well as sharing with avid crime consumers like me more of the sense of his surroundings.

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