In this series prequel novella, the reader becomes acquainted with Czech police detectives Jana Dvorska and Ivan Dambersky.
The story begins when both detectives are on holiday, Jana in England, and Ivan in Spain. While visiting a gift shop in England, Jana comes across some Mamuska dolls which she buys as a jokey gift for her partner Ivan. Imagine going all the way to England and finding a set of dolls that closely resemble ones they found at the scene of a previous murder case.
After Jana’s return home, she is back at work when the police are informed that a Czech citizen may have been murdered in Valencia, Spain – very nearby where Ivan Dambersky is holidaying. She calls him to attend the scene. The dismembered body was found by a jogger and her dog in a Valencian orange grove. The reason the police believed the young female victim to be Czech was the fact that the body wore a distinctive garnet ring, Czech in style.
“Could the ring have been left on the hand deliberately? And if so what was it intended to show? Had the perpetrators in fact wanted the identity of the victim to become known? But then why dismember the body?”
The novella is a tease. It hints at the connection between two of the detective’s cases, but does not bring anything to a conclusion. The plot alludes to art theft, the mafia, prostitution, and more. The detectives discern that the cases intersect in Marienbad, at the famous Chopin Festival. But reader beware, nothing is resolved and no perpetrators are caught. The full novel, called The Forbidden Portrait will be out early in 2018.
I very much enjoyed the two detectives, both alone and when they were together. The setting was an interesting one, and one that I’ve not read much about. The mystery itself was rather convoluted and I only hope all will be revealed in the full novel.
I received a digital copy of this novella from the author via Instafreebie in consideration of my review.
Clare Blanchard was born on the windswept and beautiful north-east coast of England. She has spent half her life in Europe, mainly in a wine-growing region with lots of history, beautiful architecture and local culture. She writes crime noir mysteries set in the wine country of Central Europe, where her two detectives, Dvorska and Dambersky, are based. But they wander around quite a bit as well. They turn up in the UK, and Spain. She just can’t seem to pin them down. What’s the point of having characters if they can’t surprise you?
Her crime stories have a strong historical thread running through them. She also writes historical mysteries.