Friday, 19 January 2018

The Mountain by Luca D'Andrea (Translated by Howard Curtis)

Jeremiah Salinger blames himself.

The crash was his fault. He was the only survivor. Now only his daughter Clara can put a smile on his face. The depression and the nightmares are closing in.

But when he takes Clara to the Bletterbach - a canyon in the Dolomites rich in fossil remains - he overhears by chance a conversation that gives his life renewed focus. In 1985 three students were murdered there, their bodies savaged, limbs severed and strewn by a killer who was never found.

Salinger, a New Yorker, is far from home, and these Italian mountains, where his wife was born, harbour a close-knit, tight-lipped community whose mistrust of outsiders can turn ugly. All the same, solving this mystery might be the only thing that can keep him sane.

To be honest, when I began reading this I thought this book was not going to be for me. There was something about it I did not like but couldn't quite put my finger on and because I could not be specific about it I decided to read a bit further. So, I gave it a few more pages and then a few more and so on until I realised I was completely hooked and I was in the midst of a great story. 

This book is atmospherically rich. The descriptions of the snowy terrain are almost tangible and the snow covered mountains become a character in their own right.

The majority of the characters are flawed in some way (aren't we all) but Salinger gains much reader sympathy due to his self-awareness. The only character who did not work for me was his daughter, Clara. Whilst, she is described as a precocious child she just did not feel childlike to me. Rather she reads more as a small adult and I had difficulty engaging with her character. However, the relationship between Salinger and his wife and his father-in-law were well developed.

What I mostly took away from this book is that Mr D'Andrea has excellent storytelling skills and the book appears to have been well translated from the Italian by Howard Curtis. Mr Curtis won an award for his translation of In the Sea There are Crocodiles in 2010.

This book will appeal to readers who like mysteries and thrillers alongside human interest. It is appropriately paced and well plotted. An enjoyable novel that I recommend.

ISBN: 978 0857056900

Publisher: MacLehose Press

About the Author:

Luca D'Andrea lives with his family in Bolzano, Italy, where he was born in 1979. The Mountain, also known as Beneath the Mountain is his first thriller and is published in thirty countries.

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