The Wilder Aisles 

Janice Wilder has been a legend of Sydney bookselling for over 40 years.

April 2019

Gleebooks Bookshop - Friday, March 29, 2019
The new Donna Leon, Unto us a Child is Born, features an old favourite—the wonderful Commmissario Guido Brunetti and his family. Of course food and wine, integral to the Italian way of life, are integral to the story. Brunetti has a somewhat difficult relationship with his father-in-law, the wealthy Count Falier, so when the Count asks for a favour, he is reluctant to involve himself in what  seems to be a personal matter between the Count and a close friend. This friend, Gonzalo—elderly and childless—wants to adopt a young man and make him his heir. This appals most of the Count’s circle, Brunetti, on the other hand, thinks the man should do as he pleases. When Gonzalo dies from natural causes his death goes unquestioned. But, of course, this is Venice and nothing is as it seems. Long-buried secrets and a murder draw Brunetti in. For lovers of Venice it is hard to go past Leon’s books—you can feel the love she has for her adopted country with every twist and turn of a calle canal.

Another old favourite Andrea Camilleri has a new book—The Overnight Kidnapper. I just love Montalbano books—who could not love Salvo, with his love of good food and wine, and his ability to solve crime without seeming to make much of an effort. Of course there are also his off-siders, the wonderful Catarella, whose strange fractured Italian means he mangles every word he speaks & always, always, gets names wrong. The rest of the cast are all great characters in their own right, but I must admit Cat is my favourite. This outing sees Montalbano dealing with a confusing series of kidnappings—where women are kidnapped, held overnight, and then released, unharmed with all their possessions intact. The question of who would do such a strange thing, and why, becomes even more urgent when a murder enters the puzzle. Great fun. I have never been let down by Camilleri—he paints a great picture of Sicily—sadly, although having been to Italy a few times, I have never made it to the south.

I loved The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan, so was very happy when her new novel featuring DS Cormac Reilly and partner Dr Emma Sweeney, landed on the shelves. In The Scholar Emma is doing research at Galway University, in a laboratory  sponsored  by Darcy Therapeutics, a giant pharmaceutical company—owned by the powerful Darcy family. Working late, Emma arrives at the centre to discover a body lying on the road. Emma contacts Cormac who finds a security card in the victim’s pocket that identifies the victim as Caroline Darcy—a gifted student, granddaughter of the founder of the company and the heir apparent. With the Darcy family such prominent members of the Galway community, this is a high profile investigation and Cormac has to juggle his concern for Emma—as she has been involved in a previous murder enquiry—and where the case is leading him. However, Cormac Reilly is a policeman through and through and won’t allow personal feelings to lead him down the wrong path. If you’ve read The Ruin I’m sure you won’t need any encouragement to read The Scholar, but if you haven’t tried Dervla McTiernan yet, start with The Ruin before heading to the new one—McTiernan is a force to be reckoned with in crime writing—I loved them both.

Finally, just briefly, The Girl Without Skin is a new crime novel by Mads Peder Nordbo. This is not a pretty book—lots of blood and vital organs being spilled on the snow and ice. When a body, or what is left of one, is found in a deep crevasse, the locals are very excited. The local newspaper believes that the small town of Nuuk in Greenland will be the centre of the attention of the world. However, things do not go to plan and when one body vanishes and another is found, the mystery deepens. I am loving it so far, and I am looking forward to some of Nordbo’s other books being translated into English. It is sometimes hard to say just why you like a book, but there is something about this one that has really appealed to me. Never mind, the violence, the story is the thing. Janice Wilder

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