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Thursday, April 14, 2011

These Dark Things - Jan Merete Weiss (ARC review)

Genre:Mystery, Crime
Publication Date:May 10th 2011
Where to get:B&N, Amazon,
Soho Press:These Dark Things
These Dark Things - Goodreads

     When a beautiful college student is found murdered in the catacombs beneath a monastary, Captain Natalia Monte of the Carabinieri is assigned to investigate. Could the killer be a professor the student had been sleeping with? A blind monk who loved her? Or perhaps a member of the brutal Napali criminal organization, the Camorra? As Natalia pursues her investigation, the crime families of Naples go to war over garbage-hauling contracts; and all across the city heaps of trash pile up, uncollected. When one of Natalia's childhood friends is caught up in the violence, her loyalties are tested, and each move she makes threatens her own life and the lives of those she loves. 

Since this was an ARC I am not allowed to publish any quotes yet, I will add them after the official publication date!

     These Dark Things is an interesting and captivating mystery novel set in Naples, Italy. It's a pleasant and satisfying read, that leaves you craving for more.

     Gina Falcone is one of the last "bone cleaners". Her job is to prepare the bones for the second burial, an ancient practice going back to Egyptians. When she goes to the local church to collect the bones for cleaning, she discovers a corpse of a beautiful young girl. The victim, a young student from Germany, has been brutally stabbed in the heart, yet not even a single drop of blood has been found near her body. Captain Natalia Monte, member of the RAS elite within the national police (Carabinieri), is called in to investigate the murder. She and her partner, Sergeant Pino Loriano, will do everything it takes to find the murderer.

     It's nothing like I've ever read before. I was prepared to be served a simple murder mystery, instead I got an excellent mix of culture, history, crime, political issues, personal drama and even a tiny bit of romance.  J.M. Weiss skillfully incorporated many interesting historical and cultural facts into solid and well-thought-out plot. The characters were brilliantly depicted and vivid, the detailed descriptions made even the minor ones stood out.
     I found it really interesting to read about Italian traditions and customs, political issues and conflicts with local criminal organization (Camorra). I must say, I'm deeply impressed by the amount of research the author must have done for this book.

     The mystery itself was a solid one. Just when I was starting to feel a little bit disappointed at how easily Natalia solved the murder, a few unexpected incidents and twists came up along the way and I finished the book with the soothing feeling of satisfaction. I can't say I got attached to the characters, nor was I especially fond of them. Despite the colorful and detailed descriptions, the characters lacked emotions and were a little bit... flat. But looking at the whole construction of the plot, I can understand why it seemed like it, after all there was so much going on on the 224 pages of the book. In the end I was pleasantly surprised at how the author concluded the story. What at first seemed like a simple and easy to solve mystery, suddenly gained a whole new perspective and so much more depth, I thought it was absolutely brilliant!

     I would really like to get to know the characters better and see them solve more mysteries, so I'm definitely looking forward to the next installment in the series.
     I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes a good mystery novel with an interesting cultural and historical background. You won't be disappointed!


Deborah Lawrenson said...

This sounds exactly my kind of relaxing read - murder, darkness, conflict... ;) Thanks for a great review to alert me.

Cody Young said...

an interesting review that made me want to read the book. Is it set in the present day or is it historical?

Britta said...

I haven't heard of this one before... thanks for putting it on my radar!

Just so you know, I gave you a blog award....

Jolene and Family said...

great review, doesn't sound like something I read, but a friend of mine would love this so I'm passing him this info

~Enamored Soul~ said...

I had not known about this book, but judging by your review, it sounds like a riveting read. Thank you SO much for introducing me to this book - adding it to my Goodreads "to-read" list, right now :)

GFC Follower: ~Enamored Soul~
Email: Enamoredsoul(at)gmail(dot)com
Twitter: @inluvwithbookz

Janinay said...

Oh goodness. What a very interesting plot! You have amazing books on your reviews! This is so intriguing! :D

aurora M. said...

I don't know why this one doesn't hold any appeal to me. The cover is off and the story I don't know but I like reading about all that's out there so thanks for the review.

Krystal said...

I know I would enjoy reading about Italian traditions. This novel will go as a to-read.

Munnaza said...

I actually had to read this book for a class I was taking, and I felt the exact same way about it as you do. It was absolutely brilliant, and reading your review only makes me want to reread it.

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