Today it is our stop on the Love Books Tour for Zodiac by Anamaria Lonescu. J.A. Warnock review for us today. The book is out now in usual formats.
Zodiac by Anamaria Lonescu
When investigator Sergiu Manta is handed the investigation into a series of bizarre murders, he can’t sure what he’s getting involved in as he has to work with regular detective Marius Stanescu, who has his own suspicions about the biker he has been told to work with, and wants to get to the truth. The twists and turns of their investigation takes them from the city of Bucharest to the mountains of rural Romania, and back.
Review by J.A. Warnock
Like any good crime/noir fiction fan, I love (limited to paper of course) a good murder. Connoisseurs of cookery books need to know their onions. Connoisseurs of crime need to think more in terms of guns and survival strategies. So here is my survival guide to Anamaria Ionescu’s ‘Zodiac’ brought to us all the way from Romania by Corylus Books.
Chapter One is a bit of a blunderbuss. You need to hunker down and take cover because that shot is coming at you in all directions. When the smoke clears and the dust settles, you have a multitude of corpses and have met a fair few characters. If you are anything like me, your curiosity will be piqued, you will take a deep breath and move on to chapter two. Don’t get too comfortable. Chapter two is a little more linear but expect rapid fire facts, machine gun style. You need to keep your wits about you and pay attention. Four bodies, four completely different murders being investigated by two completely different agencies. Two investigators reading from completely different operational procedure manuals, following different rules.
‘Zodiac’ settles into a very pleasant rhythm. By the start of chapter three I had many, many questions and the slightly less frenetic pace of the remaining chapters means you can crawl out of your hiding place and enjoy. The translation is immensely readable though I will confess I struggled a little with the similarity of some of the character names which were already unfamiliar to an English speaker’s ear. There is a nice balance between brevity and back story which makes this is an altogether well constructed work of fiction.
‘Zodiac’ offers a delicately woven counterpoint between an outside the lines Agency and play by the rules cop which adds an extra layer of tension to an already interesting plot. You might get lost for a while in the investigation but you need to keep your wits about you; conflict is always bubbling just below the surface. Cover your eyes or be brave enough to peek. It is up to you. Highly recommended. Four Stars.
Corylus Book is a new venture aiming to publish fiction translated into English. The people behind the company have very different backgrounds, but what brings us together is a deep appreciation of crime fiction and a strong interest in books from countries that so have been under-represented in English.
It took a while before it turned out that everyone’s thoughts had been on similar lines – that we wanted to take a chance on presenting some of the great European crime fiction that wouldn’t normally make its way into English. With a mixture of language, translation and other skills between the four of us, it seemed the logical next step to take.
The first Corylus books are a pair of Romanian crime novellas, Living Candles by Teodora Matei and Zodiac by Anamaria Ionescu.
There’s more to come in 2020 – starting with Romanian novelist’s Bogdan Teodorescu’s Sword, a powerful political thriller that has already been a bestseller in Romania and in its French translation. Sword will be available in May and will be followed later in the year by the first of two books by Icelandic crime writer Sólveig Pálsdóttir. The Fox will be available in the second half of this year, followed by Shackles in 2021.
And there’s more to come, with a novel by Bogdan Hrib set partly in Romania and partly in the north-east of England, a second novel from Teodora Matei, and we’re talking to more exciting writers from across Europe about what we can do together…
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Huge thanks to Corylus Books for the opportunity to be part of the tour.
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