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Book review: <i>Into The Killer Sphere</i> by Stefania Mattana

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the cover of the book

Inspector Angelo Alunni has a problem on his hands – a possible murder in his small town, where every person close to the deceased has motive but not means. Can he break the case before another family member is taken out?

The story

Chase Williams is taking a well deserved break from policing in the small Italian town of Tursenia. Unfortunately, Turensia is the home of his childhood friend, police inspector Angelo Alunni. When Piero Galli dies under a falling chandelier in his stately but isolated home, Angelo convinces Chase to come and help out at the crime scene.

Against Chase's will he's pulled deeper into the mystery. Under what circumstances did Piero die? His family knew he'd spoken about changing his will. Was it his brother? His sister in law? His elderly mother? His ex-addict granddaughter? There was no evidence left at the scene of the crime, and as far as Chase can see, the Italian police keep allowing the family to contaminate it out of respect for their feelings. There also doesn't seem to be a strong motive. Can Chase solve the mystery and keep the rest of the family alive?

The style

Into The Killer Sphere has a good strong plot, certainly. The characters are all honestly written, particularly Chase, whose point of view we see the most of through a classic third person limited perspective. The pacing is great, and carries the story through just the right length. But Into the Killer Sphere has something about it that raises it above your classic crime novella. I absolutely loved it, and I think the reason I loved it so much is two-fold:

Firstly, the sense of place is impeccable. Tursenia, to which I have never been, came alive on each page. I could see it, smell it, and I lived it during the reading experience. Mattana has a real way with description, she doesn't go overboard, but every tiny detail she puts in really gives Tursenia three solid dimensions. The setting put this story above and beyond your classic Agatha Christie, because there you are, in Italy, and I mean, like, REALLY in Italy. Stunning.

The second reason I really loved this book is linked to sense of place, in the way that the story is so Italian. Mattana's grasp of English, which I believe is her second language, is flawless, but the way she uses English is influenced by her knowledge of the Italian language, and this gives her a rare poetry that I think native English speakers just don't have the capacity for. I am lucky enough to come from a small port city in Australia with a huge population of Italian migrants, so I have experienced the way Italians put their own inflections and translations into the English language, and this book so perfectly reminded me of the way Italians speak, gesture, and describe every day life. It seems like such a rare talent to be able to write such a great story in your second language and have it stand out for that very reason, and for that I applaud Stefania Mattana.

Who is this book for?

If Agatha Christie is a bit dry for you, definitely give Into The Killer Sphere a go. It's only seventy five pages. You can knock it off on the bus to and from work, and you'll laugh. And love it. And it's cheaper than a cup of coffee to download it to your kindle. There is literally NO REASON not to read this book.

If you like this book, you would also like...

There's more Chase Williams! Yay! Also, Chase is very techno savvy, he's on Twitter and all. Get interactive with him, it's worth it!

In short

Title: Into The Killer Sphere
Author: Stefania Mattana
Publisher: Amazon Digital
Year published: 2014
Pages: 74
Genre(s): Crime fiction
Review Type: