Author – Conor Fitzgerald
Published – August 2014
Genre – Crime fiction
I’m obviously a little late to this series as this is the fifth in the books featuring Commissario Alec Blume. He is heading for a retreat in the Italian countryside, partly as he has some health issues and partly, it seems, to escape from his partner and their small daughter. When he arrives at the villa for his break he discovers that the course he planned to attend has been cancelled, but while in the villa’s garden he manages to be taken ill. So severe is his sudden illness that he wakes up in hospital, and any chance of anonymity is lost thanks to a busybody doctor. Once the local people find out that he is a police officer there is an assumption that he is there to find a missing girl and eventually Blume’s interest is piqued and he begins to investigate the disappearance.
Alongside the plot featuring Blume we also follow a thread about two girls from Romania who have been the subject of trafficking. This follows them from their home to periods of prostitution as they’re moved across Europe. I found the female characters difficult to like and to sympathise or empathise with, which made these passages less engaging for me.
Blume is quite an irascible character, although it’s hard to know if that’s normally the case or if this side of his personality comes to the fore because of his personal issues in this book. His cantankerous nature does lead to some more humorous moments in the book.
The book a very easy read, especially once the plotlines came together around halfway through and the investigation by Blume got underway. Did I feel I’d missed out by starting in the middle of a series? While there was some background that I felt I was missing out on I don’t think that there was anything that really detracted from my enjoyment of the book. Although Fitgerald isn’t Italian himself (and in fact it seems Blume was born in the US) the book would sit comfortably alongside the likes of Camilleri.
Many thanks to the publisher for the review copy of this book.