Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for The Hunting Season by Tom Benjamin, the second in his crime series featuring English detective Daniel Leicester. My thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the tour and to Little, Brown UK for my digital review copy.
About the Book
It’s truffle season and in the hills around Bologna the hunt is on for the legendary Boscuri White, the golden nugget of Italian gastronomy. But when an American truffle ‘supertaster’ goes missing, English detective Daniel Leicester discovers not all truffles are created equal. Did the missing supertaster bite off more than he could chew?
As he goes on the hunt for Ryan Lee, Daniel discovers the secrets behind ‘Food City’, from the immigrant kitchen staff to the full scale of a multi-million Euro business. After a key witness is found dead at the foot of one of Bologna’s famous towers, the stakes could not be higher. Daniel teams up with a glamorous TV reporter, but the deeper he goes into the disappearance of the supertaster the darker things become.
Murder is once again on the menu, but this time Daniel himself stands accused. And the only way he can clear his name is by finding Ryan Lee… Discover Bologna through the eyes of English detective Daniel Leicester as he walks the shadowy porticoes in search of the truth and, perhaps, even gets a little nearer to solving the mystery of Italy itself.
Format: Paperback (336 pages) Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publication date: 5th November 2020 Genre: Crime, Mystery
Find The Hunting Season (Daniel Leicester, #2) on Goodreads
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I really enjoyed Tom Benjamin’s novel A Quiet Death in Italy when I read it in 2020. I remember commenting at the time that it didn’t feel like a debut because both its location – the Italian city of Bologna – and its main characters seemed so very well realised. I’m pleased to say that, as well as Daniel Leicester, many of the characters I enjoyed getting to know in the first book make a return appearance in this second one, including Daniel’s daughter, Rose, and his boss, father-in-law and fomer carabinieri, the formidable Comandante. Readers new to the series need not be concerned though because the author provides just the right amount of detail about the key characters and events in the previous book.
As I noted in my review of A Quiet Death in Italy, Daniel’s back story provides the author with plenty of options when it comes to his personal and professional life. In this case, the personal comes in the shape of Oriana de Principe, TV reporter for Occhio Pubblico, described as Italy’s answer to the BBC’s Crimewatch, although in view of events perhaps a more apt description might be Crimewatch‘s wilder and more provocative cousin. I also liked the fact that Daniel brings a father’s insight into what the parents of the missing man must be going through, showing them great empathy.
As in A Quiet Death in Italy, the city of Bologna emerges as a character in its own right, a place where ancient and modern exist side by side. ‘Bologna was the city of hidden places – gardens blooming behind graffitied doors, porticoed masking palazzi.’ Now the author’s home, it’s clearly a city he has grown to love and I can pretty much guarantee you’ll enjoy walking the streets with Daniel. (Check out Tom’s Instagram page for wonderful pictures of the city and some of the locations featured in the book.)
No doubt the author’s experiences are also reflected in Daniel’s observations about contemporary Italian society and customs, such as the fact that in Italy laws are regarded ‘not so much as rules as guidelines’ or, probably most importantly, that regardless of the crisis, family always comes first. Cleverly woven into the plot is a darker side of modern day Italy in which immigrants are mostly invisible or, at best, treated with suspicion, and tolerated only because of the roles they perform as the country’s builders, cleaners, carers and manual labourers. Tellingly, Daniel reflects that he cannot think of a single prominent black or Asian doctor, lawyer , journalist or showbiz celebrity.
On a lighter note, Daniel observes, ‘As much as for the British a cup of tea is the universal panacea, for the Italians it’s food, any food.’ Therefore you won’t be surprised that the book also contains plenty of references to the delicious sounding food of the region – tortellini in brodo, tagliatelle al ragu, cotoletta alla Bolognese or zuppe inglese, to name but a few. And, as the blurb makes clear, this time it all comes with a generous sprinkling of truffle. Well, perhaps not the zuppe inglese!
The satisfyingly intricate plot encompasses the trade in counterfeit truffles, the impact of climate change on truffle production, people trafficking and the scourge of organised crime. As Daniel recalls, there is an Italian saying, ‘To trust is good, to distrust is better’. Good advice, as it turns out. And, although there are some dramatic scenes that delve into Italy’s wartime past, what lingers in my mind is a poignant and touching visit Daniel makes near the end of the book that left me slightly tearful.
The Hunting Season more than lived up to my expectations and I sincerely hope there is another case for Daniel along soon.
In three words: Engaging, immersive, intriguing
Try something similar: After the Storm (Guiseppe Bianchi #2) by Isabella Muir
About the Author
Tom Benjamin grew up in London and began his working life as a reporter before becoming a spokesman for Scotland Yard. He went on to work in international aid and public health, developing Britain’s first national programme against alcohol abuse and heading up drugs awareness campaign FRANK. He now lives in Bologna, Italy.