The mystery of the three orchids by Augusto De Angelis

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The mystery of the three orchids by Augusto De Angelis

Italian crime novel

Original title – Il misterodelletreorchidee

Translator – Jill Foulston

Source – Library

Well I do the second from Pushkin Vertigo series tonight and this time we are in Italy and one from the classic Italian series of Giallo novels those old yellow bound books that also sparked the films . Augusto De Angelis started of writing a spy novel inspired by the writing of Joseph Conrad and then a few years later he wrote his first crime novel after that he came on Inspector DE Vincenzi as his main character in fifteen novels , he even was made in the 1970’s to a tv series by the Italian broadcaster RAI .

Slowly and cautiously , she approached the bed .This was a big mess , and on the day of a show too. Why , though had Christina O’brian fainted in her room with a man’s body on her bed when she should have been down in the showrooms watching the models and studying her clients reactions ?

Madame Firmino could now see , below those wide-open eyes , the rest of the dead man’s face. A handsome youth, almost a boy, with fine, perfectly regular features. Long black hair thrown back and naturally a bit messy now .

The first murder victim in the bed as a show went on and with an orchid by him what does it mean .

The book follows a series of Murders the first is at a fashion house .The victim is found with an orchid now DE Vincenzi  is there a body on the bed upstairs at a Milan Fashion house . The owner of the fashion house Christina is acting oddly , he ex husband is also there but why . is he still there as another body and Orchid turn up. then De Vicenzi  is not a clue man no he is one of these detectives that sees the whole  thing as a puzzle of psychologically to be broken up and assembled as he goes from here to there .

De Vincenzi saw the body, Christina and the orchid. By now he was used to seeing bodies and women – how many inquests had he racked up, each with at least one body and always lots of women ? – but less used to seeing orchids though he loved them quite a bit more

So her stopped to look at the flower for longer and with greater pleasure. An  unnatural flower made of flesh, born of rotting slime , grown in a tropical atmosphere

Why an orchid these exotic flowers are always hard to grow  and keep

This isn’t a complex crime ,their isn’t a lot of too and froing no, this is a simple plot .I was reminded of those great american  crime radio dramas where the crime is all wrapped neatly up in half an Hour . Philo Vance is mention on the cover , but I was thinking  some one like rocky Jordan for the exotic nature like that it felt ,more like Milan set via america than Italian milan  or Inspector thorne  as a straight forward crime solver in mould of Vicenzi  or Maigret  from those forties dramas which of course came out of the pulp fiction  rather like the start of the Giallo series which was mostly american crime novel . There is also the fact that De Angelis at the time he write the book was falling very foul as being seen as an Anti fascist by the fascist Italian government of the time . Like the Italian crime novel of the time I have read I will have vengance by Maurico De Giovanni , which also owed much in its writing to American pulp fiction also set in the 30’s in Naples instead of Milan the setting for this book , both have the undercurrent of fascism creeping into there world .

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The Final Bet by Abdelilah Hamdouchi

 

 

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The Final bet by Abdelilah Hamdouchi

Moroccan fiction

Original title – al-Rihan al-akhir

Translator – Jonathan Smolin

Source – review copy

This is the second from The new AUC impress Hoopoe fiction I was sent late last year . Abdelilah Hamdouchi is a Morrocan writer of crime fiction he was one of the first writers of this genre to be translated into English. He has written 8 novels and also written for television and cinema were all his novels have been made into Dramas. He lives in Rabat in  Morocco.

As for Sofia’s body, it was lying on the bed drenched in blood. Her nightgown was open at the waist. Her right arm was extended as if she wanted to grab something. The left hung down to the ground. She was lying on the edge of the bed and looked like she was about to fall off, but death had frozen her in this position. Alwaar stared at her pale face and understood the meaning of the inspector’s ambiguous smile.He looked for Boukrisha among the other cops in thee room.

“The young guy downstairs , that’s her husband ?”

Alwaar sees the dead seventy year old woman and on way to her room meet her thirty year old husband.

Well this book The final bet claims to have been the first Arabic crime novel to be translated to English.I have actually the original edition of this book when it came out a few years ago sat on my shelves , IO see the translation may have been update in this new edition. The book follows a murder the woman whom is murdered is a french woman living in Morocco , she married a few years earlier Othman a Moroccan who was forty years his wife Sofia’s Junior. He own son is even older than her husband and he is also about when the crime is committed . Now Othman has fallen for a woman more his own age since him and Sofia married Nameea , he get very little time to sneak out and meet his mistress. Sophia is ever watching so a walk out with the dog or a trip to the shop are the short snatches of time they capture. It is one of these meetings late one night Othman returns from his meeting to find his wife stabbed in her chest.. This enter the Moroccan Police in the form of a detective Alwaar and the inspector he reports too Boukrisha. They almost from the start put the crime as one cause by the husband , and blame him. Even thou he could give an alibi , he tries to get more help from an old friend who is now an up and coming Lawyer that has been waiting for a chance to show how the police can be wrong sometimes.

For alwaar, this was the most difficult stage of any investigation. He’d look for what the evidence was telling him and read from every angle before moving to the next step. This made Alwaar move slowly, testing the patience of his assistants, who were always standing around, awaiting orders.

he finally got down to buisnees.He walked around the beside table and, with a cloth wrapped around his hand opened the top drawer, taking out a box lined with silk. He opened the lid and found it full of jewelry: Gold earings, a diamond necklace, and a ring with a sparkling jewel.He immediately ruled out theft as a motive for the murder.

The point I felt Alwaar is part Maigret but this also point Othman is the main suspect!

This is a short Book  as i would say one of those evening reads . It is an interesting insight into a new police force . We haven;t had many books looking at law and order in the Arabic world, as this was one of the first crime novels from the arabic world to break out. I wonder how many more in the coming years we will see as we see the Police in this part of the world like it is here in Morocco has changed over time  This may be owes a debt to Simenon in a way the lead detective Alwaar is maybe an homage to the French detective , even down to having a scene at home like we often see in the Maigret novels. What on the surface from the police point of view as we could see the young man killing his rich much older wife is so much more it turns out.I enjoyed this it was an enjoyable crime novel with a new setting and angles in it .

 

 

Hello , hello from Soho to Finland dead bodies are dead bodies

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I started this weeks as a change and I had two already and couldn’t justify get another from the British library crime classics and this book a wartime murder in soho fits perfectly an easy reading break from the recent books I have read which include two books by Nobel winner Patrick Modiano . The book is about missing plans and a dead well-known figure in Soho life .I was remind some what of the Rathbone Holmes films with this book .The sort of books and films that sold well in the war years .

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Then as a by chance this arrived yesterday from Finnish writer Kati Hiekkapelto the second book featuring her detective Anna Fekete the first from Orenda books thou . Anne and her husband both work for the police and one is investigating a murder with an au pair as the suspect the other illegal gang of immigrants .LIke a scream in soh a cast of suspects from outside the country .That is the only comparison I can make but I am neck high into crime this week .A welcome change of pace and two interesting books from different times and places .

Do you use crime sometimes as a break from Lit book ?

Innocence or murder on steep street by Heda Margolius Kovály

Innocence or murder on steep street by HedaMargolius  Kovály

Czech fiction

Original title –Nevina

Translator – Alex Zucker

Source – review copy

Tonight, tonight, I say goodbye
To everyone who loves me
Stick it to my enemies tonight
Then I disappear

Bathe my path in shining light
Set the dials to thrill me
Every secret has its price
This one’s set to kill

Too loose, too tight
Too dark, too bright
A lie, the truth
Which one should I use?
If the lie succeeds
Then you’ll know what I mean
When I tell you I have secrets to attend

Crime scene no1 by the afghan whigs is perfect match dark and brooding music like this book

 

Well today sees me in Eastern europe for Woman in translation month and a writer best known for her Memoir under a cruel star a memoir of her time in Auschwitz during the war . Well she wrote this novel in the years after the war when The Czech republic fell under soviet control , at the time she wrote the book it wasn’t allowed to be published and luckily a copy of the book managed to be saved to finally see the light of day in the 1980’s in Germany .Heda worked for many years translating book from English into Czech on of the writers she translated a lot of was the crime writer Raymond Chandler which is a obvious influence on this book .

“Believe me , I know .You can’t keep a secret at the Horizon .Anyway , if she did find somebody new  everyone’d badmouth her for runnin’ around on her man in the clink ,Meanwhile if the shoe was on the other foot and she was the one locked up her husband would find another girl in a week and people’d say

Helena and Karel he worked for the government and she had a better job before she went to the Horizon cinema .

The book revolves around a murder a young boy is found dead in a cinema and the staff of this cinema the Horizon  , the first section of the book is told from the perspective of on of the usherettes Helena .this first section tells what happened and then see some of the characters that crop up in the book like  people working in the cinema , the husband of Helena , Karel whom is in trouble with the authorities . the last two-thirds of the book are told by a nameless observer that watches why the boy was killed , who works for the government in the cinema , what really is happening ? which usher did it or was it them ? As we see the inspector trying to get to the bottom of it all .

The fat man hunched over in his chair and thought a moment

“Steep street is practically made for a knife ” he said .His voice was slow with sleepiness and husky , perhaps with the memory of the darkness on steep street .He laid a palm on his eyes and rubbed them as if trying to erase the sight from his mind .

I loved piece like this as they could have jumped of a hard-boiled american novel ,she caught that style of writing so well and Alex Zucker has retained in his translation .

 

This is an homage to two things firstly to Czech lit there is tones of Kafka here it is hard to avoid the feeling of Helena falling into one of those  Kafka like rabbit holes here as things started to fall into place.As every one isn’t what they first seems  and it is very easy to get caught up in the government web that is being woven  . The other is homage to Chandler and that style of crime novel , lots nods to american crime novels .The female character are like Chandlers but to me are maybe more rounded in the writing . There is feeling red herring and such here . The ushers whom fall suspect of the death of the young boy each have a connection and could be the killer . This is a book for lovers of both hard-boiled crime or Kafkaesque fiction . We are lucky it managed to avoid being destroyed by the censors .

Have you a favourite book in translation influenced by american fiction , but still keeping it identity ?

 

Two new arrivals a Czech classic and French Noir

I’ve had a bad week really , some really bad news .So a couple of books arriving has brightened a morning up to what is a sad time at Winston’s tower .

innocence by Heda Margolius Kovaly

First is a Czech crime novel the only novel from a writer better known for her non fiction work the biography  Under a cruel star .Heda Margolius Kovály was a Czech writer and translator , her book about the war and what followed from being a Jew in the Czechoslovakia . she lived in exile from the late 1950’s onwards ,where she worked as a translator translated many books from English to Czech including Raymond Chandler . I mention Chandler as John Banville has compared this book to his work .Set in Prague it follows the investigation into a murder at a cinema and the women that work as ushers in it .This is also translated by Alex Zucker .

boxes by Pascal Garnier

The second arrival today was Boxes the latest from Gallic books noir series , that has been putting out the novels of the Late Pascal Garnier .This one follows Brice and Emma a couple that have just moved into a new house . Their neighbour Blanche lives next to the grave yard and she says Brice looks like her Late father .

What books have you received recently ?

Fall of man in Wilmslow by David Lagercrantz The death and life of Alan Turing

Fall of man in Wilmslow by David LagerCrantz

Swedish fiction

Original title – Syndafall i Wilmslow

Translator – George Goulding

Source – review copy

 

 

Will you say that we were heroes
Or that fear of dying among strangers
Tore our innocence and false shame away?

And from that moment on deep in my heart I knew
That I would only give my life for love
Brothers in arms in each others arms
Was the only time that I was not afraid

What will you do when the war is over, tender comrade?
When we cast off these khaki clothes
And go our separate ways
What will you say of the bond we had, tender comrade?

I felt Billy Bragg’s  song Tender comrade about gay soldier in the war was a fitting song for a book about Alan Turing !

Now Lagercrantz is a new name as he has written a number of books including ghost writing I am Zlatan Ibrahimovic the biography of the Swedish footballer . This is his first book to be translated into english and is like a taster of what is to come as he was chosen to take over and finish the fourth book in Steig  Larsson’s millennium . Which is coming out later this year . So we get to see a new thriller writer from Sweden . For me the main buzz of the book dropping through my letterbox was it was set in Wilmslow I grew up in Cheshire and never knew it was where the real Alan Turing had died .

He did not like his job . He did not like the salary , the walking , the paperwork , or godforsaken Wilmslow where nothing ever happened . It had got to the point where even now he felt nothing but emptiness .

Corell arrives at the Turing’s  bored of Wilmslow , but is just getting himself started on his toughest case .

The book is a police investigation and biography  of Alan Turing  rolled into one really . The book follows a police detective Constable Corell is trying to discover more about a man who is found dead in his home in the sleepy town of Wimslow .A man is found after dying eating a poison apple . The man is Alan Turing one of the best minds of his genrations a war hero that was never appericated in his lifetime . As Corell starts to piece together Turing life and how he ended up in this sleepy town . The further down the road he gets the darker the past is and the more confused the present becomes .

Turing appeared to find the dream interesting . Corell gathered that the mathematician had a special interest in dreams . He had after all recorded his own dreams in three notebooks , and this conversation also gave rise to a sense of intimacy , and the offence was committed once more .

Corell discover everything about this Genius Turing that has been found dead on his patch !!

This remind me of the film Enigma which mixed history , the second world war , mystery and Bletchley park . The book is like a crime novel but we learn a lot more about the life and times of Alan Turing ,also his rise and fall during and after the war . Add to that the bizarre way he died a poison apple could he have been killed if so whom by ? the story has a great rhythm Corell is more like a guide we see the story unfurl at the same time he does .For me the connection to places I know so well . I must have been passed his house a hundred times during my life not knowing it was his house an old school friend even found an advert from a few years ago when the house was last sold and showed me . I know it is hard to step into the shoes of Steig Larsson , is David Lagercrantz a good choice . Well from this one book yes he seems to pace his story well which for me when I read the millennium series was part of what I enjoyed you were drawn into a world and Lagercrantz has done this in this book .I look forward to see what and where he is taking Lisbeth so if you are waiting to read The girl in the spider’s web ,why not try a bit of post world war two drama .

What are your thoughts on writers carrying on series after the original writer has died ?

 

Judges Andrea by Camilleri , Carlo Lucarelli and Giancarlo de Cataldo

Judges

Judges by Andrea Camilleri ,Carlo Lucarelli and Giancarlo de Cataldo

Italian novella  collection

Original tile Giudici

translators –

Camerlli – Joesph Farrell

Lucarelli – Alan Thawley

Cataldo – Eileen Horne

Source – review copy

The judge turned around the room .At one table four men were seated,one with a beret and two with hats .A stocky fifty-year-old man ,with fair skin and reddish hair , rose to his feet , removed his hat and said “accept it as a gesture of welcome ”

Judge Surra has just arrive and is greeted by some gifts from Don Nene Lonero

 

This is the second collection of novellas from Italy Maclehose press has brought out the first was Outsiders ,this is called judges and is the first I have reviewed ,I have read two of the writers in the collection before Andrea Camilleri and Carlo lucarelli .The third writer in this collection  sounds like an intersting writer as he was a former Italian Magistrate ,turned writer and screenwriter ,he is also a judge on the Italian tv show masterpiece ,which is like an X factor for writers .

While Ferro was fifty-six but looked older ,the Bambina was thirty but looked younger .He knew how old she was because she had told him as soon as she got into the car – “Wish me many happy returns ,today’s my birthday .Born in 1950 ,I’m an old woman now !”

La Bambina looks so young to the older judges

Judges are three novellas ,each about a different Judge in Italy ,also at different times .Camilleri story Judge Surra ,  we meet a Judge Surra ,a Sicilian based judge that has just moved to a small town ,he is greeted by a collection of strange welcoming gifts ,he has travelled from the north of Italy just after Italy became Italy ,the gifts are from the brotherhood (the Mafia before it was the Mafia !) ,but unperturbed he takes them on his first trial in Scilly,oh and of course there is some food involved in this book it is Camilleri  .Lucarelli’s story La Bambina ,which  follows a young female judge ,who due to getting caught in the  complex crimeworld  of  Bologna and the violence involved in this world  ,gets caught up in the violence and has to go into hiding with a bodyguard .The last story by Cataldo  The triple dream of the prosecutor ,follows the battle with a Judge well prosecutor  mandati and the mayor of Novere ,whom for years have been at one another ,but when the Mayor suddenly starts becoming the target for a killer ,is some one trying to kill the mayor or are the judges dream starting to come true !

 

Even better , a triple dream .It was March 18 .And as the headline of the Novere echo said ,The may Berazzi-pedrico is preparing to fight his umpteenth battle with the prosecutor Mandati .

dreams are actually instructive .Because not even in dreams can you get away from the law .

I choose this quote from the end of the triple dream of the prosecutor because march 18th is one of my favourite days .

This collection brings together the cream of Italian crime writers ,each adding a novella related to being a judge in Italy from the very first days of Italy and even then tackling the earliest beginnings  of the mafia ,to the torrid and violent days of the late 1970’s and 80’s in Italy ,a time I vaguely remember seeing in the news as a young boy as we saw criminals in plastic cages or actual cages to protect the judges and the criminals .Then to the age-old struggle between the Judge and the authorities between power and money .This collection is prefect as a taster of Italian crime fiction or if like me you are a fan it is a great way to find one new writer Cataldo is a new name to me and after this I will be reading one of his full length novels .

Have you  a favourite Italian crime writers !

Holmes but will the book be like the films or better ?

hound of the baskervilles ,my 1982 copy

Now Amanda is organising a read along of this classic in October .Now this has set me think ,I think I’ve mention my love of crime tv shows and films ,well my all time favourite is of course Holmes and this story in particular .It’s been twenty plus years since I’ve read it but less than a month since I watched a film version of it that time it was the Ian Richardson and the Basil Rathbone in the same day ,and in the last year or two I’ve watched the hammer version ,Jeremy Brett version ,Matt frewer ,BBC version of the original and of course the Homage of the modern Sherlock series .Each is different in little ways ,not as much of course as the versions of Buchan’s 39 steps are ,but what has been missed from each and will I now be able to separate the films from the book  ?  Do we fix in our mind when we see a film a character ? I often find I have my own vision of characters I’ve read completely different to the actors cast in the film versions ,but in hindsight when think of the book years later see the actor that played the character .I want to break this and enjoy this readalong afresh as it is a classic I loved and think I still will love and also gives me an excuse to buy or get a new copy of the book to read along with ,have you a favourite edition  of the Hound of the Baskerviles  that is out now ?

Escape by Dominique Manotti

Escape Dominique Manotti

Escape by Dominique Manotti

French crime fiction

Orginal title – l’Evasion

Translators – Amanda Hopkinson and Ros Schwartz

Source – Review copy

 

Modernity signifies the transitory, the fugitive, the contingent, the half of art of which the other half is the eternal and the immutable.

Charles Baudelaire   source 

Now for the second book for Women in translation month ,I’m choosing a crime novel for it is one of the few areas of translated fiction you do actually find a few more female writers available and Dominque Manotti is a perfect choice ,she has won the international dagger prize in the past .She was born in Paris ,was a union and political activist in the sixties and since a professor of 19th century economic history in paris .She has published ten novels in France ,her books have also won book prizes in France .

“We part company here ”  He places a canvas bag at Filippo’s feet .I’ve put everything I could find in the cars in there for you .Clothes, two sandwiches ,and some money “.Carlo pauses ,Filippo says nothin .” My escape will be in the news ,I think .And they’ll be looking for you ,because you broke out with me .You’ll have to keep a low profile for a while ,until things settle down ”

But did he take Carlo’s advice in the long-term ?

Escape is the story of two men really one living and one now dead they are Carlo the dead leader of the Italian red brigade and Filippo who had escaped with Carlo from prison in Italy ,they were cell mates .Now Filippo has heard his former cell mate who had gone back to get further involved in his red brigade activities after he had escaped has died .On the other had Filippo had travelled north sneaked through the mountain passes between France and Italy ,were he eventually ends up with the help of political refugees and activists in France in Paris where he gets a job as a security guard at night .He decides to remember all that Carlo had told him whilst doing his job at night and try to make sense of why his friend had died .The writings are quite good and with some pushing from his landlady he is advised to make it a fiction book .But what happened to Carlo and his friend want Filippo to help them find out .

L’univers des livres ,review by Jeanne Champaud

A few days ago ,the publisher of Escape ,the novel by Filippo Zuliani that will be appearing in bookshops this week ,gave me a copy of the proofs saying ,”Read these .I think you’ll be surprised ” I was .And I’m prepared to bet  that I won’t be the only one ,and that we’ll be hearing about this novel when the literary prize season is upon us this autumn .

Well it had more of an impact than that !!

Now this book takes the old escape story and adds a few twists and turns too it .Of course the politics loom large at times ,with Manotti history of activism you feel what she writes about the inner working and way the red brigade operates rings true .I was reminded at times of Schlinks novel  the weekend which of course follows friends through the aftermath of the RAF .The story of the two former cell mates is one of paths we take in life one takes the high road to Paris and the other the low road to Milan so to speak .The book also touches that field of fiction /true life crime that has grown over the years ,I was reminded of the Italian writer Massimo Carlotto who of course in his own book the Fugitive recounts his own escape from an Italian prison .The book is well translated has a fast paces I read it in two sittings and was drawn into Filippo’s world and his history with Carlo .

Have you read any book by Dominique Manotti ?

Blood-drenched beard by Daniel Galera

blood drenched beard cover

Blood-drenched beard by Daniel Galera

Brazilian fiction

Original title – Barba ensopada de sangue

Translator – Alison Entrekin

Source – review copy

I cannot walk through the suburbs in the solitude of the night without thinking that the night pleases us because it suppresses idle details, just as our memory does.”

Jorge Luis Borges  source here 

Daniel Galera was on the recent Granta list of best Brazilian writers from last year .Born on Sao Paulo but grew up in the city of Porto Alegre the same city as Luís Fernando Veríssimo, comes from .Daniel Galera  works as a writer and translator and is considered one of the best Brazilian writers at using the internet for his writing ,he found his own publishing house and also has contribute to numerous online publications .He has also won the Machado De Assis prize .

What’s that face ? asks his father .

It’s an old joke .He gives his usual answer with the barest hint of a smile .

The only one I’ve got

The first hint at the main characters face blindness condition .

Well Blood drenched beard is one of those books that reminds me why I love translation so much, a crime novel that breaks the mould and is more postmodern than crime  .A man who is unnamed in the book is drawn back to the seaside town that his grandfather lived in ,after his own father commits suicide.His is accompanied by his fathers old dog .Now this man is trying to discover his families past ,but has a problem a rare condition that means he can’t remember people after meet them because he can’t remember faces .So he is forced to remember actions and places to remember people .SO what we see through his eyes is the world in the pieces he remembers as he tries to discover who killed his grandfather .The grandfather died in a blackout ,hence the title of the book the lights went up the grandfather was drenched in blood . Will he find the killer ?

Back then there wasn’t a police station in Garopaba ,says the officer .If there was any kind of inquiry,the files would be in Laguna .But I doubt it .That was a long time ago .I’m from here ,born and bred ,my parents and grandparents and great-grandparents are from here and I’ve never heard of him .People remember the ones who die .

He talks to the local policeman ,but is what he says the truth or a lie ?

Blood-drenched beard is a clever take on the quest novel the man returning home on a quest .Now if you take out the main thing that most crime novels have and that is the facial identification and expressions  .So what we get is the smaller details how people move there gestures and how he sees these through her eyes . Add to that the setting the small coastal town of Garopaba a small town with its own past ,myths and surreal nature ,at times I was reminded of Marquez world .I’ve read Casares the Argentinian writers take on the crime novel and was reminded at times in this book of the way he wrote .A town with secrets and a family past unravelling makes this a real page turner .Do you have a favourite crime novel that isn’t a crime novel really ?

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