Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Dogs of War (2010)

This mystery by Conor Fitzgerald takes place in modern Rome and starts with the murder of an animal activist who had recently produced a film about illegal dog fights. He was discovered by his wife, a senator, and his young son shortly after his murder. His mistress, the daughter of a crime boss, left minutes before the murderer arrived. Alec Blume, an American born Roman police detective, is called in to supervise the investigation. He reminded me of another literary detective, Arkady Renko in the book Gorky Park who was also non-native born, single, singularly dedicated to his work, and skating through the politics of various different police agencies.

The story is told from the viewpoint of the murderer as well as Blume so the reader knows who the perp is but not his motive. The intervals between the alternate POVs is a little awkward and disorienting even though the date and time is given at the top of each chapter. Another small gripe I had with this book is that I was not given an explanation or translation of the names of the agencies or the titles of individuals. Since Blume was originally English speaking, it would have been easy to give us a tour of Roman crime fighters.

It was a rather dark mystery punctuated by Blume's sarcasm and occasional lack of respect for fellow policemen and interviewees. We get a view of the dog fighting world and the repulsive manner they keep and train dogs and we are introduced to a very old dog breed, Cane Corso, a kind of Italian pitbull bred strickly for fighting and consequently antisocial. It is no surprise that the case is solved but there is a rather unexpected and satisfying twist at the end.

This book is for serious mystery readers.

My rating for this book: +++ 1/2

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