Saturday, February 08, 2014

Death on a Galician Shore

I am not using my ereader as much as I did when I first had it. On the whole I do still prefer reading a real book, and tend to keep my ereader for travelling. However there is a very useful feature that I do often use, and that is the chapter-sampling. It is a different experience from being in a book shop where I tend to read just the first page or two and where I also take into account the appearance and feel of a book as a physical object. With chapter-sampling the writer has longer to make their mark, and I am not so influenced by the cover and not at all influenced by the type and the quality of the paper.I have been interested to note how often I download a free chapter and then decide that I don't want the whole book. Sometimes I wonder if I've given the writer enough of a chance, but with crime novels, which is usually what I am looking at, I think it is fair enough. They should grip the reader right from the start. What I am looking for is the kind of writing and the kind of plot that leaves me in no doubt that I have to know what happens next and that is quite rare. I haven't kept count, but my impression is that I download less than one in four of the books I sample.
One that I did decide to download and have just finished reading is Death on a Galician Shore by Portugese writer, Domingo Villar. It's the first crime novel set in Portugal that I have read, and while Villar's detective, Leo Caldas is no Montalbano, it was an agreeable read. I see that reviewers on Amazon have been generally favourable, but some have commented on the slow pace. I felt that, too, but it did pick up speed towards the end and I very much liked the way the plot was played out.As so often with novels set in foreign countries, part of the charm lies in the description of the food and incidental details of daily life. The murder victim is a fisherman and I enjoyed the way that the fishing community was brought to life, the description of the auction at the fish market and the pictureque coastline. Domingo Villar is a writer to watch. This was the second in the series, I intend to read the first, and I'll look out for the next.



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