Monday, 11 November 2013

Blood Sisters by Alessandro Perissinotto

review by Maryom

Anna Pavesi is out in the cold and dark digging - not in her garden, but in a wood on the outskirts of Milan, dreading to find what she expects will be there - a hastily buried body.
A little over a week ago, Anna was approached by businesswoman Benedetta Vitali for help with finding the body of her half-sister, Patrizia. The two sisters had barely met but belatedly hearing of Patrizia's death in a road accident, Benedetta feels the body should be interred in the family vault - but it's disappeared! On a friend's mistaken recommendation she contacts Anna Pavesi who is actually a psychologist but agrees to help out - at first mainly for the money but soon becomes intrigued by the puzzling things she discovers....until she begins to feel threatened herself..

Purely by coincidence I read Blood Sisters straight after The Lost by Claire McGowan - another novel in which the central character is a psychologist-turned-sleuth - but whereas The Lost's heroine, Paula Maguire, works alongside the police, Blood Sister's Anna Pavesi is more of a private eye, snooping around on her own with no one to call for back up when things start to get frightening. 
Whereas the previous crime novels I've read from Hersilia have been translations of older novels set in the 1950s-60s, Blood Sisters brings Italian crime up to date. Anna Pavesi is an independent career woman, separated from her cheating husband and trying to make ends meet on her own - not too successfully, which is why she finds Benedetta's offer so tempting. The story swaps between Anna digging furtively, hoping she'll turn up the final piece of the puzzle, and her attempts to take her mind off the danger she's in, by going over the steps that led her to this place. The plot twists and turns, with unexpected discoveries about Patrizia, her life and relationships along the way - and it's always nice to not be able to predict the ending and for once I couldn't! I wouldn't say it was a total surprise but it wasn't what I was expecting.
One thing that really struck me was the setting.  To many of us Italy is a romantic destination for holidays but the landscape of Blood Sisters isn't one of glorious beaches, quaint medieval towns, or dazzling ski slopes but as gloomy as dull as anywhere closer to home - the scruffy industrialised area around Milan in late winter is damp and dreary, constantly wreathed in fog with endless traffic queues. I suppose it just proves that anywhere can be dull and mundane if you live and work there, rather than visit briefly.

Maryom's review - 4 stars
Publisher - Hersilia Press
Genre - crime, adult fiction, 

 Buy Blood Sisters: An Anna Pavesi Investigation from Amazon

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