The Lizard's Bite, by David Hewson

A strange death in a glass factory threatens to upset the plans of a powerful Englishman to purchase a Venetian island for redevelopment. The local police call on the help of Nic Costa and Gianni Peroni, detectives from Rome. I picked this one up at random from the library without realising I'd read another Hewson.

Like the previous book I read, this turns out to be one of a series, and so again there was the feeling that some knowledge of previous events was assumed.

At the start of the book there was some stuff about the ancient techniques of glassmaking, and I thought perhaps I might learn something (like I did with Shattered). But after the preface, there was nothing on it. Similarly, some promising bits about forensic investigation didn't really get beyond vague mentions of what they were doing.

There were some bits in this book which held my attention, but it was a bit disjointed and not focused enough on the death. The two things I remember enjoying were parts of Hugo Massiter's speeches - although I think that may be down to the reader, who suited the voice well, and the stuff about debunking the initial pathologist's report of spontaneous human combustion. But just when it started to seem interesting, the scene would change, and you never returned to the detailed stuff.

There's an "author talks" bit at the end, and it wasn't until then that I appreciated that this is one of a series of "Nic Costa" books. Perhaps he's more central in the others, but by the end of this story I don't think I'd have concluded that he was the chief protagonist.

Something else I hadn't realised until mentioned in the interview was that I've read one of Hewson's books before - The Villa of Mysteries. I don't know if that was a "Nic Costa" one or not, but like that book, this one had not enough story and too much rueful reflection on the human condition. I concluded the review for the other book by saying I didn't think it would be worth reading another by Hewson. And I was right.

Completed : 18-Mar-2009 (audiobook)

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