Kent, Christobel - 'The Killing Room'
Sandro Cellini is an ex-policeman now working, not very successfully, as a private detective. His wife, Luisa, arranges for him to meet the managers of an exclusive apartment building - the Palazzo San Giorgio - aimed at wealthy foreign residents. Sandro is reluctant to take on the vacant position of security manager and is not surprised when the job is offered instead to a rival - the young, dashing, Giancarlo Vito.
A short while later Sandro is again offered the job when Giancarlo is found dead of a suspected overdose. However, he finds that the Palazzo has been plagued by strange and disturbing incidents that seem to be related to the centuries-old stories of a locked room in the basement where a young wife suffered a gruesome death.
Meanwhile Giulietta, Sandro's sometimes assistant, has demons of her own to face when her past seems to be coming back to haunt her and she starts to doubt whether she has the right to marry her sweetheart, Enzo.
The power struggles between the various police and security forces complicates Sandro's investigations which soon covers, unofficially, the murders of two people with connections to the Palazzo.
This is an interesting read, it isn't a page-turner since the story seems a little slow in places but for readers who enjoy reading about Commissario Brunetti by Donna Leon or Aurelio Zen by Michael Dibdin, they will find another Italian detective in Sandro Cellini, who is a bit of a maverick.
This is the fifth book to feature Sandro, Luisa and Giulietta, but they read as stand-alone books and I am sure that anyone new to this character will enjoy reading THE KILLING ROOM, without feeling that they have missed out. Saying that, they may well feel that they want to read the other books in the series as they are enjoyable reads.
Susan White, England
Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.
"A taut psychological thriller, loaded with mood, and a puzzle tricky enough to keep you guessing to the final page" —The Washington Post
In the chilling tradition of Daphne du Maurier and with the acuity of Kate Atkinson comes an atmospheric psychological thriller about an isolated British village and the sinister abandoned house that holds the key to its most shameful secrets.
Alison is as close to anonymous as you can get: she has no ties and no home, and her only anchors are her boyfriend and her small backroom job in publishing. Which is exactly how she wants it. Because once, Alison was a teenager named Esme who lived in a remote, dilapidated house by a bleak estuary with her parents and three siblings. One night something terrible happened in the family’s crooked house, leaving Alison the only survivor. In order to escape from the horror she witnessed, she moved away from the village, changed her name, and cut herself off from her past.
But now her boyfriend has invited her to a wedding being held in her old hometown, which means returning there for the first time since that night. She decides that she’s never going to overcome the trauma of what happened to her without confronting it, so she accepts his invitation. But soon Alison realizes that the events of that night left their awful mark not just on her but on the entire village, and she begins to suspect that everyone there might somehow be implicated in her family’s murder.
Christobel Kent’s The Crooked House is a haunting thriller about one woman’s search for the truth about her past through a closed community full of dark secrets.