Saturday, 27 November 2010

"The Last Enemy" by Grace Brophy

Apologies for the lack of posts over the last couple of weeks. This has been caused partly by my other life intruding (chairing a conference in Paris and then teaching an MBA module at Cass Business School) and also because I have rather unwisely agreed a deadline of mid-January for delivery of the manuscript of my next book.

I have also been reading (and eking out to make it last as long as possible) Peacemakers by Margaret MacMillan, which is the quite the best book I have read for a very long time.

However, revenons a nos moutons, and fiction in the shape of The Last Enemy. An unfortunate choice of title, since one thinks instantly of the immortal Richard Hillary book, and I seem to remember at least two others as well, but this is the only unfortunate thing about this book. Well written and well crafted, it is a murder mystery set in Italy and has inevitably prompted comparison with Donna Leon, though I am not sure why. Stylistically it reminded me more of Camilleri, or even Mankell.

Without wishing to give away anything about the plot, I thought the denouement a little unsatisfying and contrived. This is not your traditional detective story, where carefully scattered clues allow you to work out the solution for yourself, but a policier in which a sudden truth becomes known. However, the characterisation and overall plot more than makes up for this. Intriguingly, it leaves various possible romantic entanglements signposted but unresolved, which hopefully means this will be the first of a series. I hope so - I really enjoyed it.

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