#Blogtour Betty Boo by Claudia Piñeiro

 It’s my turn on the BlogTour Betty Boo by Claudia Piñeiro – translated by Miranda France.

About the Author

Claudia Piñeiro, formerly a journalist and playwright, is the author of prize-winning literary crime novels that are all bestsellers in Latin America and have been translated into many languages. She lives in Buenos Aires. Follow @claudiapineiro on Twitter

The Translator – Miranda France is the author of two acclaimed volumes of travel writing: Don Quixote’s Delusions, a Cervantean tour through the Spanish psyche; and Bad Times in Buenos Aires, which explored the psychological condition of sullen resignation and impotent rage the Argentinians know as bronca. She has also written the novel Hill Farm and translated Claudia Piñeiro’s other novels into English. Follow @MirandaFrance1 on Twitter

About the book

When a Buenos Aires industrialist is found dead at his home in La Maravillosa, an exclusive gated community, the novelist Nurit Iscar (nicknamed Betty Boo after Betty Boop) is contracted by a former lover, the editor of a national newspaper, to cover the story. Nurit teams up with the paper’s veteran, but now demoted, crime reporter. Soon they realize that they are falling in love, which complicates matters deliciously. 

The murder is no random crime. Five members of the Argentine industrial and political elite, who all went to the same boarding-school, have died in apparently innocent circumstances. The Maravillosa murder is just the last in the series and those in power in Argentina are not about to allow all this brought to light. Too much is at stake. 

Review

This is probably one of those reads where less is more in the review. If you don’t read or pay attention to the blurb and just read and enjoy based purely on what your presented with, as opposed to the assumption and the expectation, then I think you get a much more interesting read.

A businessman is found dead in an exclusive gated community – one with stringent rules when it comes to entering and exiting. Not a big suspect pool, right? Until Nurit – also known as Betty Boo – starts to uncover a bigger picture. A violent conspiracy of death and crime.

I think perhaps there is a lot more to say about the author and writing style than the actual plot – it’s really interesting how the style is completely different depending on which book. To the point of thinking it is a different author entirely. In this book I found it fascinating the way everything was constructed in an anti-norm structure. The minor characters take centre stage and minutiae rules.

The result is this snow globe version of a crime story where the falling snow keeps the eye focused on the world around the plot and the main characters are their own microcosm. Definitely an author to read.

Buy Betty Boo at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Bitter Lemon Press: pub date 14 January 2016. Buy at Amazon comBuy via Bitter Lemon Press.

#Blogtour Fish Swimming in Dappled Sunlight by Riku Onda

 It’s my turn on the Blogtour Fish Swimming in Dappled Sunlight by Riku Onda.

About the Author

Riku Onda, born in 1964, has been writing fiction since 1991 and has published prolifically since. She has won the Yoshikawa Eiji Prize for New Writers, the Japan Booksellers’ Award, the Yamamoto Shūgorō Prize and the Naoki Prize. Her work has been adapted for film and television.

Fish Swimming in Dappled Sunlight follows on from the success of The Aosawa Murders and is her second work to be translated into English.

About the Translator: Alison Watts is an Australian-born Japanese to English translator and long time resident of Japan. She has wrote the translation of The Aosawa Murders, Aya Goda’s TAO: On the Road and On the Run In Outlaw China and of Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa.

About the book

Set in Tokyo over the course of one night, Aki and Hiro have decided to be together one last time in their shared flat before parting. Their relationship has broken down after a mountain trek during which their guide died inexplicably. Now each believes the other to be a murderer and is determined to extract a confession before the night is over. 

Who is the murderer and what really happened on the mountain? In the battle of wills between them, the chain of events leading up to this night are gradually revealed in a gripping psychological thriller that keeps the reader in suspense to the very end.

Review

The story is set in a flat in Tokyo – a young couple removing all traces of their time their as they prepare to move on as individuals. Aki and Hiro have a complicated bond, one that was once strong and has become brittle and is now broken. 

The events leading to the demise of their relationship seem to be tethered to a trip they took together. A simple mountain trek that has left them both deeply suspicious of each other. The events of that day occur in moments of flashback, memories that are jarred from the deep recesses of their minds, and sudden realisations that perhaps they both never knew the other at all.

Onda has a remarkable talent for creating a captivating read by setting the scene with the bare minimal. Just two people, their heightened emotions, their suspicions, and their strong bond. A bond that takes on a destructive nature – possibly a lethal one.

I find the way this author plots quite fascinating. Giving readers an inch then retreating back into the circle of safety. Is this a goodbye with closure, one where they retain fond memories and part as friends, or will this end with just one of them closing the front door behind them. It’s a short and poignant read.

Buy Fish Swimming in Dappled Sunlight at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Bitter Lemon Press pub date 16 Jun. 2022. Buy at Amazon comBuy via Bitter Lemon Press.

#BlogTour Vanda by Marion Brunet

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Vanda by Marion Brunet, translated by Katherine Gregor. 

‘Vanda follows on from the success of last year’s The Summer of Reckoning: winner of the prestigious French mystery prize Grand Prix de Littérature policière, shortlisted for the CWA International Dagger in the UK, The Times Book of the Month.’

About the Author

Marion Brunet, born in 1976, is a well-known Young Adult and Literary Fiction author in France. Her YA novels have received over 30 prizes, including the 2017 UNICEF Prize for Youth Literature. Marion has previously worked as a special needs educator and now writes her fiction in Marseilles.

Vanda follows on from the success of Summer of Reckoning and is her second work to be translated into English. Follow Marion Brunet on Goodreads

About the Translator

Katherine Gregor lives in London and has recently translated works by Alexander Pushkin from the Russian and plays by Carlo Goldoni and Luigi Pirandello from the Italian. Follow translator Katherine Gregor @ScribeDoll on Twitter

About the book

Set in Marseilles, this is the story of Vanda, a beautiful woman in her thirties, arms covered in tats, skin so dark that some take her for a North African. Devoted to her six-year-old son Noé, they live in a derelict shed by the beach. She had wanted to be an artist; she is now a cleaner in a psychiatric hospital. But Vanda is happy living alone with her boy. “The two of them against the world”, as she says. 

Everything changes when Simon, the father of her son, surfaces in Marseilles. He had left Vanda seven years earlier, not knowing that she was pregnant. When Simon demands custody of his son, Vanda’s suppressed rage threatens to explode. The tension becomes unbearable, both parents fully capable of extreme violence.

Review

I know for many this story equates to an image of motherhood, the lioness who will protect her offspring no matter the consequences. She will do anything to keep the outside world from taking him and interfering. That relationship takes precedence above everything and anyone else, including that of the other parent – in this case the father who doesn’t become aware of his son until six years after Vanda gave birth to him.

I didn’t take any of that away from this story. What stands out for me is the pure narcissism, the selfishness, and the complete and utter lack of accountability for choices and actions. Vanda lives life on the seat of her pants. Instant gratification is her mantra – people, parties, substance abuse and of course sexual gratification.

Does that mean Vanda isn’t a victim of a patriarchal society, of abuse or assault? Does it mean she isn’t a strong woman who is willing to stand up for what is right and protect the weaker? No, but it also doesn’t negate the fact she isn’t a perfect example of motherhood. This story is a perfect example of neglect, of a bond created on the lack of equality between a child who has no other source of basic needs than his mother, and a mother to whom he is a second thought and an obstacle.

So, no this wasn’t an example of a paragon of virtuous motherhood and a strong woman protecting the bond between mother and child. It is one of a person who is incapable of making the right choices for her son, because her needs and sense of superiority and possession will always come first. To the detriment of herself, those around her, and of course her child.

Brunet has a knack for writing a story that can create a division and make us aware of the fact that depending on our own frame of references the reader will digest, experience and ultimately come to completely different views on the material they have read. It’s also that noirish quality of her work, which captivates whilst stirring the emotions, that has readers coming back for more. The translator manages to capture the essence perfectly.

Buy Vanda at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Bitter Lemon Press, pub date 22 April 2022. Buy at Amazon comBuy via Bitter Lemon Press.

#BlogTour The Measure of Time by Gianrico Carofiglio

 It’s my turn on the BlogTour The Measure of Time by Gianrico Carofiglio.

About the Author and the Translator

Gianrico Carofiglio now a full time novelist was a member of the Senate in Italy and an anti-Mafia prosecutor in Bari, a port on the coast of Puglia. He is a best-selling author of crime novels and literary fiction, translated in 27 languages. This is the sixth Guerrieri novel is in this best-selling series.

Howard Curtis is a well-known translator from the Italian and has translated other titles in this series.

Follow Gianrico Carofiglio @GianricoCarof  and translator @HowardCurtis49 on Twitter, on Goodreads, Buy The Measure of Time

About the book

The latest in the highly successful Guido Guerrieri series, shortlisted for the 2020 STREGA prize, Italy’s most prestigious literary award. It is a tense courtroom drama set in Southern Italy, but also a tale about passion and the passage of time. Guerrieri had fallen in love decades earlier with Lorenza, a beautiful older woman who was in his eyes sophisticated and intellectual. She made wonderful love and opened his mind to high literature, but ultimately treated him as a plaything and discarded him.

One spring afternoon Lorenza shows up in Guerrieri’s office. Her son Jacopo, a small-time delinquent, stands convicted of the first-degree murder of a local drug dealer. Her trial lawyer has died, so for the appeal, she turns to Guerrieri. He is not convinced of the innocence of Lorenza’s son, nor does he have fond memories of how their relationship ended two decades earlier. Nevertheless, he accepts the case; perhaps to pay a melancholy homage to the ghosts of his youth. 

Review

The Guido Guerrieri series is an interesting combination of studiously calm and fiercely passionate, this straddling of both sides of his character is what makes the series. The inner dialogue, the questioning of self, the constant narrative with himself about past, present and future – it’s what makes Guido Guerrieri a man and character to remember.

Lorenza has come to Guido to request his help in getting her son some decent legal representation. She wants him to come to her rescue for old times sake to help save her troublemaker of a son.

His memories of their time together and Lorenza as a younger person are based on feelings of nostalgia at first, but the nostalgia is interrupted by flashbacks of the controversial anti-establishment rebel. How her experience influenced him as a younger man and perhaps shaped him in a way.

These interruptions to his inner flow and dialogue put a certain perspective on the whole scenario. It’s interesting how Guido is influenced by these spur of the moment gut reactions. Exactly the opposite of his professional exterior.

It’s an excellent legal thriller – a courtroom drama. A meticulously plotted back and forth tennis game of evidence, proof and whatever lurks in the middle of the two. Carofiglio has a very distinctive writing voice, very much like a tiger padding slowly towards its prey and ultimately a crescendo of the plot.

Buy The Measure of Time at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Bitter Lemon Press pub date 18th March 2021. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Night of Shooting Stars by Ben Pastor

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour The Night of Shooting Stars by Ben Pastor.

About the Author

Ben Pastor, pseudonym of Maria Verbena Volpi, was born in Italy. She lived for thirty years in the United States, working as a university professor in Vermont, before returning to Italy to write historical thrillers. She is one of the most talented writers in the field of historical fiction. In 2008 she won the prestigious Premio Zaragoza for best historical fiction. She writes in English.

Follow Ben Pastor on Goodreadson Amazon, Visit benpastor.comBuy The Night of the Shooting Stars

About the book

Berlin, July 1944, a few weeks before the attempted assassination of Hitler by Claus von Stauffenberg and other conspirators. Bora has been called back from the Italian Front to investigate the murder of a dazzling clairvoyant with Nazi connections.

Soon Bora realizes that there is much more at stake than murder in a city where everyone is talking about a conspiracy aimed at the Nazi hierarchy. Bora eventually meets with Stauffenberg. Are the plotters a group of heroes devoted to the salvation of Germany at the cost of their own lives, or a bunch of opportunists compromised from the beginning with the Nazi regime and now looking for a new virginity in the eyes of the Western Allies and Stalinist Russia?

Review

After reading this I went back and read The Horseman’s Song by Ben Pastor again, because this book really reminded me how much I enjoy her writing. I also have to say that although both are set in the Martin Bora series and are deeply enmeshed in stories of wartime turmoil, warfare, politics and atrocities committed in the name of political, religious and ideological beliefs – they are two completely different reads.

The fact that Bora is a soldier at heart, who believes his place should be under fire with his men at the front, even if it means almost certain death, is a trait that tends to drive a lot of the read. Also something that was very evident in the Spanish Civil war (Horseman’s Song) book. This sense of brotherhood, camaraderie and comprehension of the hardship.

In this one the moral dilemma of the regime sets the tone or perhaps the fact that the majority became disassociated from the murder and violence, which is why it becomes almost normal to talk about the horrendous slaughter of innocents.

The failed assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler by Claus von Stauffenberg and his co-conspirators is usually written from the perspective of the Allies, those who wanted him dead and those brave enough to recognise the destruction he brought upon his country, the world and of course the victims of his eugenics ideology.

Pastor turns that around a little, and to be fair the topic is a source of debate with historians, and presents men with ulterior motives, as opposed to the honourable failed saviours the world perceives them to be.

It’s superbly written historical fiction with a crime embedded in fact.

Buy The Night of Shooting Stars at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher : Bitter Lemon Press; pub date 20 Aug. 2020. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Bitter Lemon Press.

Read my review of The Horseman’s Song by Ben Pastor.

#BlogTour Deep as Death by Katja Ivar

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Deep as Death by Katja Ivar.

About the Author

Katja Ivar grew up in Russia and the U.S. She travelled the world extensively, from Almaty to Ushuaia, from Karelia to Kyushu, before finally settling in Paris where she lives with her husband and three children. She received a B.A. in Linguistics and a master’s degree in Contemporary History from Sorbonne University. Evil Things was her debut novel.

Follow @KatjaIvar @bitterlemonpubon Amazonon GoodreadsBuy Deep as Death

About the book

Hella Mauzer has just been fired by the police and is now a reluctant private investigator. Escaping the mind-numbing routine of shadowing unfaithful spouses, Hella finds herself at the centre of an investigation of multiple murders.

It all begins when a prostitute is found floating upside down in Helsinki Harbour. Not exactly a high priority case for the Helsinki police, so homicide chief Jokela passes the job to his former colleague Hella. It’s beginning to look like a serial killer is at work when another lady of the night narrowly escapes being driven into the harbour, handcuffed to the car by her client.

What begins like a taut whodunit turns into something more tantalizing as Hella turns her attention to different suspects, often to the consternation of the fascinating Inspector Mustonen, charismatic, ambitious and trying desperately to live up to the standards of his high-maintenance wife. 

Review

Hella is always on the short end of the stick. Her career with the police, as the first female homicide detective, is over and her new role as a private investigator isn’t really bringing in the much needed cash.

She is surprised when her old boss recommends her services on a case he is wanting to brush under the carpet. Pitting her against a charismatic ex-colleague seems counter productive, especially because she is known for digging her heels in even when it gets dangerous for herself and others.

It’s Nordic crime that uses a bedrock of sexism, gender equality and the thin line between law and order and crime, which was still quite a prevalent imbalance in the era the story takes place in.

Ivar’s stories have a Nesbo flair to them, but with more of a noirish feel. The crime within a crime which is laid upon a bed of evil. It makes for a glorius read. The reader is pulled between doubt and certainty, especially in regards to the main characters. Is there ill intent or just fumbling foolishness, real danger or just a paranoia perceived out of circumstances?

Either way Ivar writes a cracking read and is honing her craft. I expect to hear more from this particular author. I wonder whether the mystery mentioned briefly towards the end will be the focus of the next book in the Hella Mauser series.

Buy Deep as Death at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Bitter Lemon Press; pub date 2 Jun. 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of Evil Things by Katja Ivar.

#BlogTour Summer of Reckoning by Marion Brunet

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Summer of Reckoning by Marion Brunet, translated by Katherine Gregor.

About the Author

Marion Brunet, born in 1976 in the Vaucluse, is a well known Young Adult author in France. Her YA novels have received over 30 prizes, including the 2017 UNICEF Prize for Youth Literature. Summer of Reckoning is her first novel written for adults and her first work to be translated into English.

About the translator:

Katherine Gregor lives in London and has recently translated works by Alexander Pushkin from the Russian and plays by Carlo Goldoni and Luigi Pirandello from the Italian.

Follow Marion Brunet on Amazonon Goodreads, Follow translator Katherine Gregor   @ScribeDoll on Twitter, Buy Summer of Reckoning

About the book

A psychological thriller set in the Luberon, a touristic French region that evokes holidays in magnificent pool adorned villas. For those who live there year-round, it often means stifling poverty and boredom. Two teenage sisters have grown up in a world where the main distractions are hatred of Arabs and booze. When Celine, 16, discovers she is pregnant and refuses to divulge her lover’s identity, her father embarks on a mission of revenge. A dark and upsetting account of an ailing society, filled with silent and murderous rage.

Brunet uses her tense and efficient novel to tell us a story of “people at sea, on a boat punctured just above the waterline, never far from a shipwreck”. No one describes better the poisonous claustrophobia of families trapped in small rural towns. She writes with a scalpel about couples, family, sexism, racism and poverty.

Review

This reminded me of the teenage exploration of sexuality in Smooth Talk (1985). When young girls float between childhood innocence and the magnetic pull of sexual exploration. No one story is alike, and yet in a way they are all the same.

When a father discovers his teenage daughter Celine is pregnant it sets off a series of events that, although destructive in nature they are also don’t leave much of an impact. That in itself speaks to the nature of what the author wants to portray. The absolute miniature cosmos of village or small-town rural life. The way life stagnates and threatens to suffocate those who are still in the throes of discovery and development, as opposed to those who have already resigned themselves to the stagnation.

The two sisters, Jo and Celine find themselves taking different paths. Celine has begun a road well-worn and travelled by others, whereas Jo still has the aspiration to reach beyond what others say she can reach for.

It’s literary fiction, a slow exploration of violence, birth, sexuality and a crime that slips into obscurity.

It’s fascinating how Brunet captures the differentiation of domestic and other violence. The way both perpetrator and victim perceive it as normal, ergo not worth mentioning or trying to stop. An acknowledgment that society will be just as reluctant to do so. In contradiction the violence during the crime is seen as necessary against a growing evil. One act weighs upon the conscience – the other is not worth another thought.

Brunet is also astute when it comes to the impact of false information fueled by racism, which in turn leads to misconceptions about fellow countrymen, who then become victims of vicious propaganda.

It’s a Kodak moment novel. A study of rural life, of poverty, racism and family.

Buy Summer of Reckoning at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Bitter Lemon Press; pub date 12 March 2020. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Aosawa Murders by Riku Onda

Today is the last day of the BlogTour for The Aosawa Murders by Riku Onda. This is a spectacular read.About the Author

Riku Onda, born in 1964, is the professional name of Nanae Kumagai. She has been writing fiction since 1991 and has won the Yoshikawa Eiji Prize for New Writers, the Japan Booksellers’ Award, the Mystery Writers of Japan Award for Best Novel for The Aosawa Murders, the Yamamoto Shūgorō Prize, and the Naoki Prize. Her work has been adapted for film and television. This is her first crime novel and the first time she is translated into English.

Follow Riku Onda on Amazonon GoodreadsBuy The Aosawa Murders

About the Translator

Alison Watts is an Australian-born Japanese to English translator and long time resident of Japan. She has translated Aya Goda’s TAO: On the Road and On the Run in Outlaw China (Portobello, 2007) and Durian Sukegawa’s Sweet Bean Paste (Oneworld Publications, 2017), and her translations of The Aosawa Murders and Spark (Pushkin Press, 2020) by Naoki Matayaoshi are forthcoming.

About the book

On a stormy summer day in the 1970s the Aosawas, owners of a prominent local hospital, host a large birthday party in their villa on the Sea of Japan. The occasion turns into tragedy when 17 people die from cyanide in their drinks. The only surviving links to what might have happened are a cryptic verse that could be the killer’s, and the physician’s bewitching blind daughter, Hisako, the only family member spared death.

The youth who emerges as the prime suspect commits suicide that October, effectively sealing his guilt while consigning his motives to mystery. Inspector Teru is convinced that Hisako had a role in the crime, as are many in the town, including the author of a bestselling book about the murders written a decade after the incident. The truth is revealed through a skillful juggling of testimony by different voices: family members, witnesses and neighbors, police investigators and of course the mesmerizing Hisako herself.

Review

The Aosawa family is celebrating a triple generational birthday,  very auspicious and a day to welcome friends and family. The last thing they are expecting is the day to end in mass murder. The only family member to survive is surrounded by rumours and suspicion about her involvement despite the death of the prime suspect.

The story examines the nature of truth and justice by having different people recount their version of the event and their experience. It certainly does have the haunting atmosphere and style of Kurosawa’s Rashomon, but more importantly it has the same overall thread of morality about it. Right or wrong – evil or good. Does the deed become less important, as it slips into the darkened chambers of myth and history, ergo what’s the point of enforcing punishment?

I think the more poignant question the author asks is if the murders at some point become the silent trees – when a tree falls and no one is around does it still make a sound? The answer is yes, just because there is no one to hear the sound it doesn’t mean the sound didn’t happen.

I loved both the story and Onda’s style. The reader becomes the silent observer and simultaneously the occasional narrator as the story is relayed in a series of memories, statements and interviews. It often gives the sense of being on uneven terrain, unbalanced and not quite sure where this is going or why, and sometimes it’s not even clear who is taking us there. However that is part of the brilliance of the plotting, the meticulous stringing together of fragments, flashbacks and observations.

It’s literary fiction, a beautiful lyrical dance of words and a mystery, which may not give a satisfactory answer to the question that plagues both the reader and the characters.

I thought it was a captivating read. You can’t help but be drawn into the tragedy that becomes an obsession. The tragedy that is still collecting victims decades after the event. Onda is a force to be reckoned with and her name should be up there on the long and short lists of best books.

Buy The Aosawa Murders by at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Bitter Lemon Press; pub date 16 Jan. 2020. Buy at Amazon comBuy at Bitter Lemon Press.

#BlogTour The Fragility of Bodies by Sergio Olguin

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour The Fragility of Bodies by Sergio Olguin. It’s urban crime with a flair of literary fiction.

About the Author

Sergio Olguín was born in Buenos Aires in 1967 and was a journalist before turning to fiction. Olguín has won a number of awards, among others the Premio Tusquets 2009 for his novel Oscura monótona sangre (“Dark Monotonous Blood“) His books have been translated into German, French and Italian. The Fragility of Bodies is his first novel to be translated into English.

The translator Miranda France is the author of two acclaimed volumes of travel writing: Don Quixote’s Delusions and Bad Times in Buenos Aires. She has also written the novels Hill Farm and The Day Before the Fire and translated much Latin American fiction, including Claudia Piñeiro’s novels for Bitter Lemon Press.

Follow @olguinserg on Twitter, on GoodreadsBuy The Fragility of Bodies 

About the book

When she hears about the suicide of a local train driver who has jumped off the roof of a block of flats, leaving a suicide note confessing to four mortal ‘accidents’ on the train tracks, she decides to investigate. For the police the case is closed (suicide is suicide), for Veronica it is the beginning of a journey that takes her into an unfamiliar world of grinding poverty, junkie infested neighborhoods, and train drivers on commuter lines haunted by the memory of bodies hit at speed by their locomotives in the middle of the night.

Aided by a train driver informant, a junkie in rehab and two street kids willing to risk everything for a can of Coke, she uncovers a group of men involved in betting on working-class youngsters convinced to play Russian roulette by standing in front of fast-coming trains to see who endures the longest.

With bodies of children crushed under tons of steel, those of adults yielding to relentless desire, the resolution of the investigation reveals the deep bonds which unite desire and death.

Review

What makes this such an interesting read is the simplicity of the crime. Something so banal it could be a kids joke or a game, but with a little criminality it becomes something sinister instead of senseless and stupid.

Veronica stumbles upon the whiff of a story; a man who commits suicide purports to be a killer. He could no longer live with the guilt. Veronica becomes curious about what is really going on, starts to investigate and finds out more than she was prepared for.

Aside from the plot, I think Olguin gives an insight into the world of the men and women who have to cope with driving a killing machine, which often does just that. Sometimes it is accidental, sometimes it is just the circumstances and often it’s on purpose. The why is irrelevant when death stands on the tracks and waits for the impact. The why is also irrelevant when it comes to the sound and the end result.

Olguin writes with a keen sense of reality. The readers get a great feel for the surroundings, the limitations of certain economic situations and the people trapped in them. The desperation and yet simultaneously the joy at the small things in life. This is especially evident when it comes to the children. The joy of being able to buy sweets, snacks or a can of coke. There is a certain carefree feeling about them, despite the seriousness of the situation. The kind of feeling only children can embrace with such a bold attitude and enjoy with limitless abandonment.

It’s urban crime with a flair of literary fiction. Fair dues to the translator, but I would really love to read this in the original language.

Buy The Fragility of Bodies at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Bitter Lemon Press: pub date 11 July 2019. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Bitter Lemon.

#BlogTour The Horseman’s Song by Ben Pastor

Today it’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Horseman’s Song by Ben Pastor. It’s crime, war, conflict and yet at the same time it’s also a statement of human inadequacies during times of great upheaval.

About the Author

Ben Pastor, pseudonym Maria Verbena Volpi, was born in Italy and worked as a university professor in Vermont. She lived for thirty years in the United States, working as a university professor, before returning to Italy to write historical thrillers. She has published five novels in the Martin Bora series in English so far and a number of prize-winning novels including The Water Thief and The Fire Waker (published to high acclaim in the US by St. Martin’s Press), and is considered one of the most talented writers in the field of historical fiction. In 2008 she won the prestigious Premio Zaragoza for best historical fiction. She writes in English.

Visit benpastor.com

Buy The Horseman’s Song

About the book

Spain, July 1937. The tragic prelude to World War II is played out in the civil war between Spanish nationalists and republicans. Among Franco’s volunteers is Martin Bora, the twenty-something German officer and detective. Presently assigned to the Spanish Foreign Legion, Bora lives the tragedy around him as an epic, between idealism and youthful recklessness.

Doubts about his mission in Spain arise when Bora happens on the body of Federico García Lorca, a brilliant poet, progressive and homosexual. Who murdered him? Why? The official version does not convince Bora, who, intoxicated by the mystery, begins a perilous investigation. His inquiry paradoxically proceeds alongside that of Walton, his opposite number with the International Brigades. Soon the German and the New Englander join forces, and their cooperation will not only culminate in a thrilling chase after a murderer, but also in an existential face-to-face between two adversaries forever changed by their encounter.

Historical accounts tell us that Lorca was arrested and executed by Franco’s troops under circumstances that remain largely unknown. To this day his body has not been found.

Review

Can one be lyrical during times of war and have time to enjoy moments of poignant prose? The answer to that is yes and perhaps even more so considering who the victim is in this historical crime story. Pastor has gone back in time to use the disputed and controversial murder of the famous Spanish poet Federico García Lorca.

His body was never found and there are plenty of books and debates about the why or indeed the culprits. The only thing everyone agrees on is that he was assassinated. The reasons seem to wander between his political affiliations and  the fact he was homosexual. The truth will be somewhere in between, killed as part of mass execution protocols to extinguish supporters of the Marxist Popular Front and perhaps insulted before his death for his sexuality.

The author has taken that mystery and created a fascinating search for answers between two opposing sides in the midst of the Spanish civil war. Instead of focusing on strategy, front-lines and battle, this is about the men and women in the middle of brutal political machinations.

In, what I believe is, more of an ironic nod towards the search for the remains of Lorcas since his death, the plot revolves around finding the corpse. In fact there is less of a focus on the culprits than on the whole we need to find the body to give him a burial and honour him. To this day thousands have been spent on locating the remains of this honoured and revered poet.

Pastor has a very distinctive literary style, old school reflective and taking in all the sights and senses. In combination with the brash, brutal reality of wartime conflict it can be a little confusing. A bit like watching a black and white silent movie through a periscope with one eye, whilst the other eye is being battered with vivid, colourful and noisy images at the same time.

It’s crime, war, conflict and yet at the same time it’s also a statement of human inadequacies during times of great upheaval.

Buy The Horseman’s Song at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Bitter Lemon Press; pub date Paperback 14 Feb 2019, Kindle pub date 20 Feb 2019,

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