Source: Review copy
Publication: 10 July 2018 from Fahrenheit Press
In the small Czech town of Vinice the mayor has been found dead in his wine cellar.
Detectives Jana Dvorska and Ivan Dambersky are called to the scene and soon realise that despite appearances, Mayor Slansky’s death was most definitely not from natural causes.
Almost immediately, the close-knit community closes ranks to try and brush the unexplained death under the carpet with the minimum of fuss.
Dvorska & Dambersky are drawn deeper and deeper into secrets that many hoped would remain buried forever and they’re forced into pursuing an investigation where their own lives are put in danger.
Daniel Slansky, The Mayor of Vinice, a small town in the Czech Republic, has been found dead in his wine cellar after celebrations for his 57th birthday.
Jana Dvorska and Ivan Dambersky , detectives from the local police force are called to the scene. On the face of it, it seems the Mayor has had a heart attack. Certainly, everyone who matters in Vinice is content to believe that, despite evidence to the contrary uncovered by Jane Dvorska.
Even the Chief of Police wants this death swept under the carpet and as fast as possible. But Dvorska and Dambersky, an unlikely pairing, are determined to find the truth.
I enjoyed Clare Blanchard’s characters Jana Dvorska and Ivan Dambersky. Dvorska wedded to her ancient but reliable Skoda and Dambersky, lazy, with drug issues but with a wily way that helps Dvorska to work out how to get to the truth without letting the bosses know what they are up to.
Blanchard has created a beautifully atmospheric novel in which the fantastic Czech landscape, its history and culture take centre stage. She paints strong pictures of the town and surrounding countryside where Dvorska has a cabin. Her wine cellar is a dark, fetid place where you would not want to spend any time, especially if you knew what had gone before….
As the detectives delve into the victim, they uncover a dark and horrible history to the family and their rise to wealth and power. Here are secrets so terrible that they affect anyone who hears them and Dvorska and Dambersky are no exception.
Going back to the war and uncovering a whole raft of unutterable crimes; this is a crime novel that is shocking and sometimes brutal.
I really enjoyed the first outing by this pair of detectives who have more to them than at first is evident. I liked the pace and the writing and would certainly read the next in the series. Where I would wish for something to be different is in the ending, which I thought was slightly too quickly tied up and a bit too pat.
Verdict: an excellent read in a great setting with two fascinating protagonists who have a lot more to tell us.
About Clare Blanchard
Originally from the North Yorkshire coast in England, Clare Blanchard spent half her lifetime in the Czech Republic, where her books are mainly set. Inspired by Nordic noir, where the settings are often like another character in the plot, she writes crime mysteries and other fiction, usually with a historical twist. She loves beautiful landscapes and architecture, cross-country skiing, the wine of South Moravia, and of course Czech beer. When she’s not being literary she knits funky socks.
Follow Clare Blanchard on Twitter: @CBCrime
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