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The Last Room Kindle Edition
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A new publication by Danuta Reah, [or her alternate identity Carla Banks] remains a treat for the insightful crime / thriller reader. Her work striates startling and ‘up to the minute’ plots that make the reader pause; and think beyond the narrative, and contemplate their link to the reality around us. With the contemporary world [as ever] in geopolitical turmoil, we find The Last Room reflecting this, in a very disturbing tale of the reality that is often masked under [what former US Defense Secretary Robert McNamara described as] ‘the fog of war’. The backstory for The Last Room is the Balkan War[s], though the lineage for that conflict, and this disturbing novel is further in time, back to WW2 [and African civil wars].
The opening of The Last Room is a terse, gruelling snatch of a vicious attack on a pregnant woman on Africa’s war-torn Ivory Coast in 2005. This sets the scene for a complex novel which questions if there can ever be any absolute truth, when as McNamara indicated, war masks everyone’s actions and deeds until it is all but secrets, lies and misinformation that mask the motivations of those at its core concealing the truth in the fog that crawls along a battlefield.
Moving to 2007 Europe, we follow the aftermath of the suicide of Dr Ania Milosz, an expert witness involved in the conviction of a child killer, Derek Haynes, who is appealing against his conviction for the murder of six-year old Sagal Akindes [daughter of aforementioned, brutalised Asylum Seeker from the Ivory Coast].
Neither, Ania’s father, retired Policeman Will [Gillen], nor her fiancé Darius Erland believe that the linguistics expert jumped to her death, and so starts a trail that snakes its way to the deeds of the past, deeds that some wish to remain hidden in the fog, that is war.
Reah’s narrative is propelled by short, concise chapters that make the reader plough through the novel like a bullet-train, as it snakes its way to Lodz, in Poland, and the link to Nazism, and that of the occupied peoples during World War Two. Darius and Will uncover uncomfortable truths in their journey, that forces one to remember that the beauty and majesty of modern Europe, are constructed upon the graveyards of the dead; many murdered in the name of war, genocide and hidden under the dense clouds of fog that Robert McNamara described so vividly. Highly recommended and topical for those who enjoy their crime fiction that challenges, and helps reveal what really goes on in the reality that surrounds, when evil people motivate others to carry out the unspeakable, all under a cloak of deceit, a fog if you will – Ali Karim
Assistant Editor of Shots eZine, writes and reviews for many Crime/Thriller Magazines; an associate member of the CWA, ITW and PWA. Karim contributed to ‘Dissecting Hannibal Lecter’ ed. Benjamin Szumskyj [McFarland Press], The Greenwood Encyclopedia of British Crime Fiction [ed. Barry Forshaw] and ITW 100 Thriller Novels ed David Morrell and Hank Hagner [Oceanview Publishing]. Karim is a CWA Gold Dagger Judge, and awarded [for contributions to the Crime, Mystery and Thriller Genre] 2011 David Thompson Memorial Award [Bouchercon St Louis] and in 2013 the Don Sandstrom Memorial Award
The vehicle to explore these is the death of Ania Milosz, an expert in linguistics, in the Polish city of Lodz. The evidence seems to suggest that she killed herself in order to escape disgrace. Her father, recently retired senior police officer Will Gillen, haunted by the childhood abduction and murder of Ania’s twin sister, initially accepts this but decides to go and see for himself. The impact of suicide on the victim’s loved ones is vividly conveyed.
Her fiancé, Dariusz Erland a human rights lawyer, is unwilling to accept the verdict that she killed herself. What Will discovers in Lodz makes him suspect that Dariusz is right and he begins to investigate. The action encompasses Scotland and Manchester but mainly Lodz and we follow Will and Dariusz as they try to discover what happened. The tension builds as they follow the trail of evidence, each man using his network of contacts to try to uncover the truth. Someone is trying to stop the truth coming out and neither man knows whom they can trust.
Both Will and Dariusz are interesting characters with depth, although Will is the one we see more of. The descriptions of Lodz made me want to visit.
An enjoyable read and I look forward to finding more by this author.
Danuta Reah's, The Last Room was a great introduction to crime fiction. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and following the plot and was also fascinated by all the detail on voice forensics and all the places the main protagonist visited, especially Lodz in Poland.
Thank you Danuta for introducing me to crime fiction. I shall read more
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