Detective fiction isn’t my usual choice, but having watched and loved the Montalbano series on the BBC I was inspired to choose this Italian detective in the hope that it might have something of the Montalbano magic.
It didn’t. The Dogs of Rome is a very different kettle of fish if you’ll pardon the mixed metaphors. It introduces a new Italian detective, Alec Blume, and is based in Rome, obviously!! The Dogs of Rome touches on a range of themes that would be familiar to Montalbano fans – the mafia, the incorruptible officer, the failure in love, the willingness to ignore the instructions of his corrupt and politicised superiors in the name of truth and justice – a kind of Balotelli of detective fiction. All this, but none of the culinary interest and humorous tone that has become synonymous with Montalbano on TV and also, allegedly, in the books by Camilleri.
The Dogs of Rome is the first of a series about Alec Blume, an American orphaned when on holiday in Italy, and now an Italian policeman. No doubt the writer has the American market in mind. It was surprising when about two thirds of the way through the novel the narrative focus moved from Blume to his antagonist, the murderer. The suggestion of social significance, the political dimension never really developed into a key theme as the story became a pretty straightforward thriller. The characters have some interest, I suppose, but do tend to be caricatures – the mafia boss at the centre of a spider’s web, the internet addict, his violent games.
Nevertheless, this was a good read. I might never read another Blume story, but as a beach read or a holiday book this was ok.