It's February, and Carnival time in Venice. Bright blue skies and freezing temperatures welcome forensic pathologist Teresa Lupo to the city. Teresa has taken time out from her job to find her beloved bohemian aunt Sofia who has mysteriously disappeared. There seem to be no clues as to her whereabouts, but a visit to Sofia's very strange apartment in the Dorsoduro confirms Teresa’s suspicions that all is not well....
©2012 David Hewson (P)2012 W F Howes Ltd
Having read (or listed to) all of the Nic Costa series by David Hewson, I came to expect the usual lot of mystery, quirky characters and twists, but this latest (actually stand-alone) novel featuring pathologist Teresa Lupo somehow failed to hook me at all. Masked people move through the cold streets and canals, and I eventually lost track of all of them - especially since there were a number of British expats among them, some of them acting in the here and now, some from centuries ago. And strange small dogs. And of course: The usual influence and symbolism of ancient paintings.
The story flounders between the cold February reality of Venice in the Carnival season and a second novel presented in form of a serial deposited regularly at Teresa's doorstep.Confused? So was I, believe me.
She made the most of this convoluted novel.
Sadly, not a lot. Except maybe to give Venice a wide berth during Carnival.
"A bit different"
This is a bit of a departure for David Hewson. Teresa Lupo is on her own in Venice looking for her unconventional missing aunt and has to follow a trail of mystical tails to get to the bottom of why and where she is hiding. It has mystery rather than murder at its centre and the other characters, including Nic Costa, are notable by their absence, apart from the odd related memory or thought. Venice is perfect as a background to this tale, but some of the supernatural aspects might not appeal to all readers.
I miss the usual narrator (Saul Reichlin) whose voice I love and found that Juanita McMahon didn't always get the phrasing right. It also annoys me that directors/editors can't get an Italian expert in to advice on and correct the pronunciation of place names and other Italian words. If you happen to have a smattering of Italian, it takes a while to understand what she is saying as the stress and articulation is wrong - especially the totally misplaced lisping 's' - which is Spanish, I believe.
It annoyed me and dissatisfied me, throughout. The tortuous plot was much too long and often repetitive. The prose was turgid in places. There were some clever clues, but these were unnecessarily laboured.
I felt that the characterisation of Theresa Lupo was very much at odds with the previous books in the Costa series. I very much preferred the earlier, more self-assured, incarnation.
It certainly didn't help that the narrator knew no Italian. Her pronunciation was cringe-making, and sometimes downright misleading. Bring back Saul Reichlin!
What a disappointment! I wonder if Hewson, whose Costa series I have relished, was working to a publisher’s deadline and felt obliged to get something out, however inferior it might be?
"Not up to Hewson's normal high standard"
Like other reviewers, I have enjoyed the Costa series and looked forward to more of the same. This was disappointing and the story was far fetched and slow-moving. I don't know about the Italian accent, but what set my teeth on edge was a) pronouncing "Actuarial" as "Acturial" and b) suggesting that Cambridge University would have a professor of Acturial Science
Irritating and disappointing I stayed with this book because the author is David Hewson. A brilliant story here but a very slow start and padded throughout with long sections of boring repetitive waffle. I could not find the wonderful Teresa Lupo in this book due in part to the narrator whose voice and style of delivery I feel is best suited to children’s bedtime stories.
"Good story: bad narrator"
Unusual story - but still a 'virtual page turner'. Let down significantly by a 'chick book' narrator with a bad italian inflexion and accent. Just because a woman is the main protagonist, doesn't mean it needs a female narrator. Not sexist - I'm a woman too - but for me, the quality and 'listenability' of the narrator is almost as important as the story. It also needs to be appropriate to the nature of the book. Bring back Saul Reichlin!
"Spoilt by reader"
This was my first taste of Dave Hewson's writing in any form and I'm still not sure what I think of it but I am sure that the melodrammatic reading by Juanita McMahon isn't helping one bit. She acts the book rather than reading it and this distorts the relationship between novel and reader by interposing McMahon's own, florid interpretation. Furthermore, her pronunciation of the Italian words sprinkled through the narrative is just plain bad and that is unforgiveable in a story set in Venice! Surely the producers of the audiobook could have ensured that the reader had sufficient tutoring in pronunciation to avoid this tacky result. A very disappointing purchase, but I will persevere and try Mr Hewson without McMahon's involvement.
The author has gone to great lengths to paint a wonderfully evocative picture of Venice...totally let down by the narrator's irritating habit of putting pauses and emphasis in totally the wrong place.
"Interesting story not the style of the Rome series"
Theresa the pathologist from the 'Rome series' is the centre of the story as she looks for her missing Aunt, and is guided by mysterious letters and stories, with fact and fiction intertwined during Carnival in Venice. Whilst the stories and unfolding drama were well crafted, they were too much of a digression for me, and I just didn't get the same enjoyment as I do out of the Rome series. Whether this is because there was a different narrator, I don't know. I should say that Juanita McMahon was an excellent narrator. The comfortable style of the Rome series, just didn't seem to carry over to me anyway.
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