David P. Wagner, |
Death in the Dolomites
(Poisoned Pen Press, 2014)
I really wanted to like this mystery -- it has elements I enjoy a lot, such as a solid sense of a place I've never been, attention paid to the food as part of the atmosphere, and lots of characters, each with their own agendas.
I spent the last half of the novel speculating about this, between naps. Why? It's not badly written, and I've read far worse novels that yet kept me reading.
I think the flaw for me was that it was so dispassionate. No one seemed to care one way or another about the victim, or finding his killer, and in many ways the crime was resolved only by accident, while everyone was pretty much on vacation. Even the professional cop seemed to have rather less interest in finding the killer than in his new hat, and what pastry he would eat next with his espresso. Calling the approach "lackadaisical" gives it rather more credit than it deserves.
And I am not at all sure that the solution, once discovered, makes any amount of sense ... but I was far too bored by it at that point to want to go back and check.
It is competently written, and has an interesting sense of place. The characters are ciphers, though, and there is no tension, even when persons unknown are attempting to murder Our Hero before all is revealed. In fact, I think more energy was spent on lunch choices than that! It's too bad that the food writing, like the rest, was descriptive but not evocative.
I'd recommend this only to people who want a soothing read with utterly no challenges whatsoever.
book review by
1 November 2014
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