Monday, May 31, 2021

Book Review: The American by Nadia Dalbuono

The American by Nadia Dalbuono book cover and review
The American is a detective novel that is intriguing.

Detective Scamarcio is called to a suicide, close to the Vatican, where an American man has hung himself off a bridge. Soon a Cardinal who works at the Vatican is also killed, and the suicide doesn't seem like a suicide anymore. There are things that Scamarcia is troubled by. Things that don't make sense. But the more he pries into the circumstances, the more he is threatened by American men who appear to be CIA? FBI? He isn't sure, but they definitely want him off the case. But he can't give up,  and that gets him in trouble.

Scamarcio has his own personal issues, involving a romance the gets even more complicated because of this case. It makes him human and personal issues are helpful to become attached to characters in a series of books. The American is the second in the series and not having read the first did not seem to impact my enjoyment of this one, although things like his relationships carry over from the first novel.

There are a lot of characters, and it would have helped if I had read this book more quickly (which never seems to happen anymore.) The American is a bit more complex than some who-done-its that I read, and I don't mean that as a negative. The ending had a surprise that I didn't see coming which added even more to my positive opinion.

If you enjoy police procedurals with a lot of intrigue and guessing, I think you will like The American. I may go back and read the first book, The Few There are currently a total of five books in the series.

Published by Scribe, 2019
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
368 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Book Review: The Fountains of Silence, by Ruta Sepetys

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys, book cover and review
I enjoyed The Fountains of Silence, especially the ending, but it wasn't my favorite Sepetys book.

Most of The Fountains of Silence takes place in 1957 in Madrid. The setting was vivid, and one of my favorite aspects. This was the time when Franco was the supreme dictator of Spain, but the United States was beginning to establish more of a positive relationship with that country. Daniel is from Texas, visiting Madrid with his mother and father while his dad tries to make oil deals with Spain. Ana is a maid at the hotel where they are staying.

Daniel and Ana begin a relationship that, while charming, has all the makings of a disaster. Daniel is a photographer and meets some people who can help him with his goal to win a prize to attend journalism school. He takes pictures, some controversial, of Madrid. There are secrets that Ana wants to keep from Daniel, in particular how destitute her family is. But Daniel manages to crack the facade and dig into her real life.

The story brings to light the plight of those in Spain who fought against Franco. It has come to light (fairly recently) that thousands of children were taken from their Republican parents after birth and given up for adoption. The parents were told their babies had died. The Fountains of Silence tells this story in a way that young people can relate to. The author includes helpful factual information at the end of the book.

At over 500 pages, I thought The Fountains of Silence moved really slowly. This may partly be because I listened to the audiobook, and only in small bits at a time. The narrator's (Maite J√°uregui) Spanish heritage lent authenticity to the story, and she was easy to understand, even if I found the emphasis of some words and phrases to be off.

Sepetys' trademark is finding obscure but very interesting bits of history and weaving interesting people and settings around that theme. She has accomplished this in The Fountains of Silence.

Published by Philomel, 2019
Audiobook purchased from
512 pages

Rating: 4/5

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