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Books 105-108: Four Crime Thrillers by Hewson, Camilleri, Hannah and Gerritsen

Book 105: Dante's Numbers (Nic Costa 07).
Author: David Hewson, 2008.
Genre: Mystery. Thriller. Police Procedural.
Other Details: Large print Hardback. 562 pages.

Published in the USA as The Dante Killings, this seventh outing for Nic and his mates opens with a series of bizarre and deadly incidents occurring at an event celebrating an epic film by a legendary director based on Dante's Inferno. Soon Nic and the gang are sent to San Francisco as part of a detail that is protecting an exhibition linked to Dante as well as hoping to recover a valuable artefact stolen in Rome.

I have from the start enjoyed this series, not only for the characters but for Hewson's weaving of art, architecture and the like into his narrative. As always there are plenty of twists and turns. In this novel references to vintage films abound. Certainly a treat for me and other film buffs. The main film referenced is one of my all-time favourites and opened up some interesting parallels between it and Dante's masterpiece.

Book 106: The Shape of Water (Inspector Montalbano 01).
Author: Andrea Camilleri, 1994. Translated from the Italian by Stephen Sartarelli, 2002.
Genre: Mystery. Thriller. Police Procedural.
Other Details: Hardback. 250 pages

A local politician is found dead in his car in a seedy neighbourhood known for prostitution and drug trafficking. Due to his state of semi-undress he is assumed to have died of natural causes during a sexual escapade. Inspector Montalbano's superiors expect him to close the case quickly to avoid a scandal. However, the Inspector suspects that there is something suspicious about the death and launches a full investigation.

This was my first experience of this renowned series of Italian police procedurals. I had first seen the film versions of a couple of the novels on the wonderful BBC 4. Like the films the novels are full of unusual characters, bizarre situations and playful dialogue and packed with events despite its short length. I found it a very engaging novel with a quality that I am not sure I can put adequately into words : perhaps best described as a lightness of spirit rarely found in crime fiction. I certainly plan to read more.

Book 107: A Room Swept White (Spilling CID 05).
Author: Sophie Hannah, 2010.
Genre: Mystery. Thriller. Police Procedural.
Other Details: Paperback. 480 pages.

The USA title for this novel is The Cradle in the Grave, which is a fairly straightforward title compared to the poetry inspired UK one. The main protagonist is Fliss Benson, a young TV producer, working on a documentary about cot death and three women who were put on trial following the deaths of their babies due to the reports of an over-zealous doctor. One of the women is found dead and beside her body a card containing a series of numbers that is identical to one sent to Fliss. The Spilling CID become involved in the case.

This was an intense psychological thriller that used a number of narrative devices throughout. It was a library reading group selection and its themes provoked a great deal of discussion in the group. While the cover didn't mention that it was the fifth in an on-going series, it became obvious that while the central story worked as a stand-alone the police characters had plenty of back story that was somewhat perplexing. As a result of this and enjoying the novel so much I have checked out the fist in the series to find out more about these characters.

Book 108: The Killing Place (Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles 08).
Author: Tess Gerritsen, 2010.
Genre: Mystery. Thriller. Police Procedural.
Other Details: Paperback. 324 pages

The US title of this novel, Ice Cold, seems to suit it more than its UK one. While attending a medical convention in Wyoming , Maura accepts an invitation from some new friends to join a small party for a spur-of-the moment skiing trip before returning home. They get lost and things go from bad to worse when their SUV dies on them. They end up in a seemingly abandoned community named Kingdom Come during a heavy snowstorm. Very bad things happen. Eventually Jane Rizzoli and her husband get involved when Maura fails to return to Boston as scheduled and they receive shocking news.

As with all of Tess Gerritsen's novels I pretty much zoomed through this one, unable to put down. A perfect book for a hot summer day because she really evokes the snow and ice cold of the wintry setting. Brrrr.
Tags: crime fiction, police drama, thriller, translation
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