#BlogTour #BookReview Requiem in La Rossa by Tom Benjamin @RandomTTours

Requiem BT PosterWelcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for Requiem in La Rossa by Tom Benjamin. My thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the tour and to Little, Brown for my review copy.  Do check out the post by my tour buddy for today, Sandra at BookLoverWorm.

Requiem in La RossaAbout the Book

In the sweltering heat of a Bologna summer, a murderer plans their pièce de résistance…

‘Only in Bologna’ reads the headline in the Carlino after a professor of music is apparently murdered leaving the opera. But what looks like an open-and-shut case begins to fall apart when English detective Daniel Leicester is tasked with getting the accused man off, and a trail that begins among Bologna’s close-knit classical music community leads him to suspect there may be a serial killer at large in the oldest university in the world.

Format: Paperback (352 pages)  Publisher: Constable
Publication date: 5th May 2022 Genre: Crime

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My Review

Requiem in La Rossa is the third book in the author’s crime series set in Bologna featuring British private detective Daniel Leicester. I’ve read both the previous books in the series – A Quiet Death in Italy and The Hunting Season – and loved each one. Although I’d obviously recommend reading the series from the beginning, Requiem in La Rossa can definitely be read as a standalone.

It was great to be reunited with characters from the previous books such as trainee investigator Dolores, Daniel’s father-in-law, Giovanni Faidate (known as the ‘Comindante’) and the other employees of Faidate Investigations. Oh, and of course, Daniel’s girlfriend, ‘the svelte and unapologetically visceral’, Stella Amore, who also happens to be his daughter Rose’s art tutor.  Once again there’s some nice verbal sparring between Daniel and Commissario Rita Miranda of the Polizia di Stato.  She dismissively refers to Daniel as ‘the English detective’ and mocks his approach to investigation: ‘It’s all about the clues with you, isn’t it, Sherlock?’

Daniel is a great character. He has a keen sense of justice and is not afraid to push the limits of the law when necessary. Being a qualified locksmith helps, although not when he’s in a police holding cell. He’s fiercely protective of his daughter and I loved seeing his pleasure at his daughter’s burgeoning artistic talent and how she is growing into a young woman his late wife would have been proud of.  Daniel’s Italian is improving as well. In fact, at one point he’s complimented on his English by some tourists who take him for an Italian. Perhaps an experience the author has had?

One of the things that makes the series so enjoyable is the Bologna setting. You really feel as if you are walking the streets alongside Daniel and the other characters and, dear readers, there are maps!  The level of detail could only have come from someone with an intimate knowledge of the city. ‘With the chime of the nine o’clock bell from San Procolo came il vento della sera, the breeze that blew east across the city each evening like a relieved sigh for having made it through another day.’

Amongst other things the labyrinthine plot involves a suicide that may be murder (or perhaps is suicide after all?), a death from natural causes that may be murder (or perhaps is from natural causes after all?), evidence of corruption amongst Bologna’s academic institutions and an outbreak of food poisoning (or is it?). Quite honestly if you managed to work out the identity of the culprit(s) and their motivation before the final chapters, well done you!

Requiem in La Rossa is another wonderful addition to the series. It’s a skilfully-crafted mystery with great characters and lots of local colour. Book that trip to Bologna now!

In three words: Atmospheric, intriguing, immersive

Try something similar: After the Storm by Isabella Muir

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A Quiet - TomBenjaminAbout the Author

Tom Benjamin grew up in the suburbs of north London and began his working life as a journalist before becoming a spokesman for Scotland Yard. He later moved into public health, where he led drugs awareness programme FRANK. He now lives in Bologna.

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BlogTour #BookReview The Dark Flood by Deon Meyer

The Dark Flood Blog Tour_Twitter copy-2Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for The Dark Flood by Deon Meyer, translated from Afrikaans by K. L. Seegers. My thanks to Sophie at Ransom PR for inviting me to take part in the tour and for my advance review copy.  Do check out the post by my tour buddy for today, Little Miss Book Lover.

The Dark FloodAbout the Book

One last chance. Almost fired for insubordination, detectives Benny Griessel and Vaughan Cupido find themselves demoted, exiled from the elite Hawks unit and dispatched to the leafy streets of Stellenbosch. Working a missing persons report on student Callie de Bruin is not the level of work they are used to, but it’s all they get. And soon, it takes a dangerous, deeply disturbing turn.

One last chance. Stellenbosch is beautiful, but its economy has been ruined by one man. Jasper Boonstra and his gigantic corporate fraud have crashed the local property market, just when estate agent Sandra Steenberg desperately needs a big sale. Bringing up twins and supporting her academic husband, she is facing disaster. Then she gets a call. From Jasper Boonstra, fraudster, sexual predator and owner of a superb property worth millions, even now.

For Sandra, the stakes are high and about to get way higher.

For Benny Griessel, clinging to sobriety and the relationship that saved his life, the truth about Callie can only lead to more trouble.

Format: Hardback (416 pages)      Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication date: 14th April 2022 Genre: Crime

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My Review

Although described by Wilbur Smith as ‘the undisputed champion of South African crime’ I confess the name Deon Meyer was completely new to me.

The Dark Flood is the seventh book in the series so it’s obvious there are aspects of Benny Griessel’s character and past history that will be familiar to readers of previous books but were completely new to me. The author has made him a very believable character with flaws as well as strengths. He’s a recovering alcoholic which has resulted in a strained relationship with his son Felix, although Benny is doing his best to support him financially through film school. Fortunately, Benny has found himself a very supportive partner in Alexa.  Professionally, he has a strong sense of justice, an eye for detail and an instinctive sense for when he’s being told – or more often, not being told – the truth. His rather rebellious attitude to authority is shared by his partner Vaughan Cupido. I really liked their relationship – the banter and the gentle teasing – and they fact they have complimentary skills. Vaughan is a like a firecracker when it comes to ideas, shooting off in every direction, while Benny is the one who can bring them together to form a picture.

The story switches frequently between the two plot lines – Benny and Vaughan’s missing persons investigation and Sandra’s dealings with Jasper Boonstra. Initially, the two story lines seem to have no connection but of course the author is cleverer than that and they do eventually converge, although not perhaps in the way you might expect. Benny’s oft-stated belief that there is no such thing as coincidence is surely a crime novelist’s in-joke.

There are some great female characters in the book, especially Sandra. I really felt for her as her preciarious financial situation and her desire to protect her family sees her become more and more drawn into Boonstra’s financial shenanigans with shocking consequences. Fortunately, help arrives from an unexpected quarter proving the saying that revenge is a dish best served cold.

For those who like a bit of action in their crime fiction, The Dark Flood is book-ended by two dramatic scenes. And those who love a final page twist or cliff-hanger won’t be disappointed either.

I found it easy to forget this is a translation although there were some Afrikaans words and phrases (mostly swear words as it turns out) that were unfamiliar to me. (There is a useful glossary.) I felt more knowledge about South African politics, the concept of state-capture and the geography of the country would have added to my appreciation of the subtleties of the plot.

The Dark Flood is a combination of skilfully crafted police procedural and insight into the murky world of political, institutional and financial corruption. It’s a series I would definitely look out for in the future.

In three words: Compelling, clever, suspenseful

Try something similar: A Memory for Murder by Anne Holt

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Deon MeyerAbout the Author

Award winning author and screenwriter, Deon Meyer, has written 14 novels, is published in 27 countries and is a multiple no.1 bestseller.  He has won several awards including the CWA International Dagger Award twice, the Barry Award in the US, the Deutsche Krimi Prize in Germany, the ATKV Prize in South Africa (four times), and Le Grand Prix de Littérature Policière and Le Prix Mystère de la Critique in France. He was longlisted for the IMPAC Prize and selected as one of Chicago Tribune’s ’10 best mysteries and thrillers of 2004′. Deon has written five screenplays for film and two TV series. His books have been turned into two international TV series – Dead before Dying as the series Cape Town, and Trackers. All his other books are currently under option for films or TV series, with several in development. He directed one feature film. Deon is passionate about Mozart, mountain biking, motorcycles, cooking, Formula One racing, private aircraft and rugby. Deon lives in Stellenbosch with his wife Marianne. They have six children, three each from previous marriages. He is also a proud grandfather.

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