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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flowing, enjoyable and engrossing mystery thriller
This mystery thriller set in contemporary northern Italy is a debut novel by Tobias Jones. The story is told from the point of view of Castagnetti, who is a private investigator hired to establish the legal status of Riccardo Salati, who disappeared fourteen years ago but as no body has ever been found he is presumed missing. His wealthy widowed mother, Silvia Salati...
Published on 14 Oct 2009 by dali

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Hard Work
I just couldn't get into this book. It is written in a very dull and uninspiring way and the characters are not developed much. I found I was struggling to keep up, partly because the lack of characterisation made it difficult to remember who was who, and partly because I was struggling to muster any interest in the book.

I notice that the author has previously...
Published on 9 Nov 2009 by Al


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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flowing, enjoyable and engrossing mystery thriller, 14 Oct 2009
This review is from: The Salati Case (Hardcover)
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This mystery thriller set in contemporary northern Italy is a debut novel by Tobias Jones. The story is told from the point of view of Castagnetti, who is a private investigator hired to establish the legal status of Riccardo Salati, who disappeared fourteen years ago but as no body has ever been found he is presumed missing. His wealthy widowed mother, Silvia Salati has just died and made it a condition of her will that the case into her son's disappearance be reopened to establish whether he is still alive or dead. Only once this has been determined, can the will's heirs inherit the fortune left.

The narrative flows easily and the whole story takes place over one week. Castagnetti is like a bloodhound once he has the scent and makes a thorough investigator. He interviews family members and others connected to Salati. He pursues any lead and throughout the week we share everything he learns. The story twists and turns throwing up new clues and suspects but it concludes in a very satisfactory and explanatory manner ensuring the reader understands who, what and why occurred.

The lead character of Castagnetti is a loner but very likeable and although he has a cynical streak, he is not totally downtrodden or world weary. The writing is well paced and quick to read. The whole novel reminded me of the classic American noir novels of the 1930s and 1940s and although the setting is Italy, the place has become a backdrop rather than a main character. The overall effect is a highly enjoyable and well written mystery thriller which allows the reader to fully engage with the story and reach an ending where the mystery is resolved.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Hard Work, 9 Nov 2009
By 
Al (Farnborough, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Salati Case (Hardcover)
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I just couldn't get into this book. It is written in a very dull and uninspiring way and the characters are not developed much. I found I was struggling to keep up, partly because the lack of characterisation made it difficult to remember who was who, and partly because I was struggling to muster any interest in the book.

I notice that the author has previously worked as a journalist on The Independent. This book is written in the same dry, methodical way that news stories are written in that paper. That's fine for a newspaper, but a fictional story needs a bit more to bring it to life, and that is what this book lacked.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tedious and cliched, 19 Dec 2010
By 
Tony Jackson - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Salati Case (Paperback)
Well if ever there was an example of a book which does not live up to the "recommendations" on its cover, then this is it. at only 260 small pages I thought this would be a one- or two-sitting thriller. But no. It is so dull that it took me forever to plough through it and frankly I couldn't have cared less about the denouement by the time I got to it. To be avoided at all costs. Stick to the non-fiction please Mr Jones.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Salati Case, Tobias Jones - Entertaining Detective story, 23 Nov 2009
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Salati Case (Hardcover)
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This worthwhile book follows the adventures of a Sam Spade like detective living in Italy, as he tries to sort out a rather tangled missing persons case. It has a nicely involving plot and well written central character. There a re no artistic flourishes in the writing style, the plot is reasonably linear and well laid, making this an enjoyable and relatively easy going and enjoyable read. At 250 pages it doesn't outstay its welcome, and trips along at quite a decent pace. A great book for a long train journey, recommended to all fans of decent crime thrillers, especially the Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe style.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good detective story, 7 Oct 2009
By 
Sid Nuncius (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Salati Case (Hardcover)
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I enjoyed this book very much - a lot more than many other reviewers, it seems. I thought as a private detective mystery it worked very well, with a credible and comprehensible plot which was very well developed in the narrative, and believable, well-drawn characters. Jones (who lives in Parma) also creates an excellent sense of place - Northern Italy in winter - and the mores and politics of the city and of Italy itself, and I found the central character narrating the story interesting and sympathetic in a flawed, human way

Like one or two other reviewers, this book put me in mind of Raymond Chandler. No one, of course, has Chandler's uniquely brilliant style, but the first-person narration by a solitary, fundamentally moral character, the way in which he describes the gumshoe work of talking to people and his semi-co-operative and uneasy relationship with the police were all reminiscent. Even the beekeeping reminded me of Marlowe's chess problems as a way of distancing himself from the moral squalor he has to work with. All this is very much to the good, and Jones's prose has a style of its own which I liked very much: direct, unfussy, rather spare and a pleasure to read.

I found this was a very thoughtful, engrossing and enjoyable book. I hope it is sufficiently successful to develop into a series. I certainly look forward to more and I can see Castagnetti becoming yet another well-loved fictional detective. Perhaps not five stars, but certainly four-plus. Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Castagnetti: Death in Northern Italy, 22 April 2010
By 
J. R. Campbell (Edinburgh) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Salati Case (Paperback)
The cover quotes the Evening Standard to the effect that the author is "A worthy successor to Michael Dibdin". I think that is fair comment, although Tobias Jones' Castagnetti is perhaps more Colombo than Aurelio Zen. That said, I think Castagnetti is a brilliant creation, and I look forward to reading more of him. Dibdin's Zen was very much a Venetian, although often sent to do his policing in different parts of Italy. I think I am right in saying that Castagnetti's "city", however shrouded in the winter fogs of the Po Valley, is never actually identified. [Don't get taken in by the cover of the paperback which, to my eye at least, is clearly Venice.] I have had a few guesses as to the "city", but I do not know the north of Italy all that well. I rather like this genre when it is set in a named and identifiable city or area. That, however, is merely my preference. [I cope with Camilleri's Montalbano series because I know Sicily and can put names to his "invented" towns!] I think, however, the characterisation here is excellent. Castagnetti is utterly believable, but smaller parts, like the "notaio", Il Dott. Crespi, as he would doubtless prefer, are also very well painted. As in all such things, one cannot dwell on the plot too much for fear of giving things away. Suffice it to say that the processes by which Castagnetti makes his deductions are entirely credible and his initially seemingly hopeless task is accomplished by a private detective in a manner which one would never have expected from the official police forces.
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3.0 out of 5 stars 'Anything's possible in a city this small', 5 Oct 2009
By 
Purpleheart (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Salati Case (Hardcover)
'I was looking for Via Repubblica 43, but the fog was thick. I could barely see the doors, let alone the numbers'.

Castagnetti, known as Casta, is the PI brought in to investigate a cold case of a disappeared son. The mother's estate cannot be settled until he gives his professional opinion on whether Umberto Salati is missing or dead. The opening scene juxtaposes the `mellifluous', indirect language of Crespi, the lawyer dealing with the estate and Casta's straightforward approach. Within the first ten pages we hear how Casta got into the business, almost by accident and that people `brought him their terrors and their tragedies'. Casta muses `when you've seen that much betrayal and deception, you can't trust what you see, let alone what you don't. Everyone becomes a suspect'.
This piqued my interest and this book is well written and engaging, the narrative carried along by the pared down dialogue. But it doesn't live up to the intriguing potential complexity of that set up. People pretty much tell Salati the truth as he investigates and I did find myself wondering afterwards why the mystery hadn't been cracked before.

I've been a devotee of the Italian Detective thriller since I first read Michale Dibdin's Aurelio Zen series and have followed Donna Leon's and Andrea Camillieri's detectives with less admiration but almost as much pleasure. Montalbano and Brunetti love food, and those details help to place them in a sensuous Italy. Casta has bees and no current love interest - although he's made a love offering of his bee balm. It's difficult to care about him as a character when he doesn't have much that he cares about himself.

Despite these concerns this is a promising euro thriller and I'll read the next in what will no doubt be a series.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A fair start?, 23 Aug 2009
By 
J. Coulton "Julia Coulton" (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Salati Case (Hardcover)
This is apparently the first book in a new crime series by Jones about the private investigator Castagnetti, who we find here investigating the case of a disappearance some years ago with a view to clearing up an inheritance issue. I have to say I do love crime books with a clear sense of place, and also which give us an insight into the pleasures and foibles of the main investigator. Great examples of the genre I think are Rankin's Rebus and Camilleri's Montalbano, which make Edinburgh and Sicily respectively really come alive on the page and have kept me gripped throughout the series and longing for more.

Jones does not achieve this same trick successfully enough for me. Whilst we do get the feel for Castagnetti's bee keeping hobby and personal mode of retreat, this is not brought out in enough detail. I did not really come away from the book knowing much about him, or even wanting to find out much more about what made him tick. Also, the author does not bring Italy to life through the tale enough for my tastes.

I found the crime story, as it unfolded, interesting enough to keep my attention, although a little difficult to follow in places. Some of Castagnetti's methods are, as all good exponents of this type of activity tend to be, a little unorthodox, although some of the stunts he pulls spill over into the realm of incredulity for me. However creative one has to be in the world of Italian crime investigation and corruption, I am just not sure that Castagnetti would get away with behaving as he does in places in the book.

So a fair if not brilliant start to his exploits. Hopefully the character of Castagnetti will develop over future installments, as well as sharing with avid crime consumers like me more of the sense of his surroundings.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An interestesting Italian Mystery, 16 July 2009
By 
R. E. Quinn (Great Britian) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Salati Case (Hardcover)
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With The Salati Case the author gives us a glimpse into the modern Italian world where old cities meet new industry but families still hide secrets.

The hero of our story is Castagnetti a private detective who one morning is contacted by a notary Armando Crespi with what he considers a fairly simple request, he wants Castagnetti to confirm if Riccardo Salati alive or dead.

The fact that Riccardo Salati disappeared 14 years before while waiting on a train makes things a little more difficult but his mother has recently died and before her estate can be given to the heirs an effort must be made to prove whether Riccardo is still living or dead.

With his usual lack of optimism for the world in general and possibly in this case getting a result Castagnetti agrees terms and sets about trying to trace the movements of a man 14 years before.

As he begins to delve into the life of Riccardo, his mother Silvia and his brother Umberto he starts to unravel secrets long buried. At the same time some unknown person is trying to give the impression that Riccardo is definitely alive by placing mourning notices in his name in the local paper.

As Castagnetti drives around the Italian countryside chasing down clues and people from Riccardo's past the case becomes more involved and the list of people who could have wanted Riccardo Salati to disappear that night 14 years before grows ever longer.

Mr Jones has given us a well written and intriguing story with well developed characters with interesting quirks (Castagnetti keeps bees as a hobby) with descriptions of a place he obviously knows well.

A good read and well worth a go.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A Zen like state, 21 Sep 2009
By 
Quicksilver (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Salati Case (Hardcover)
'The Salati Case' follows Castagnetti - an Italian Private Eye - hired to find out the whereabouts of a missing man; a man long presumed dead. It is a solid, if unremarkable début, cut from the same cloth as Michael Dibdin's 'Aurelio Zen' novels.

Written in the first person, the style felt quite stilted at first, which I found off-putting. Jones' prose is spare, economical, and occasionally reminiscent of Raymond Chandler. Initially, I found the narrator to be cold and emotionless, but as the novel progressed I warmed to Castagnetti, a troubled soul - who, as befits the genre, is a flawed loner.

The case is not, of course, as straight-forward as it should be, and soon Castagnetti is blundering around, not terribly effectively, trying to shed light on some dark and murky secrets. The novel's plotting is tight and holds together well, but there is little to distinguish 'The Salati Case' from hundreds of other crime novels.

I think Jones and Castagetti have a long and prosperous career together, but this crime-début, is little more than a proto-Zen novel. If you've never read Dibdin, don't start here, read 'Ratking' instead. If you've read and loved the Zen novels, then you will probably enjoy this too, but most of all, you will be left with the small hope that, with a little extra polish, Jones may soon be able to fill the late master's shoes.
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The Salati Case
The Salati Case by Tobias Jones (Paperback - 24 Dec 2009)
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