*I received a free ARC of this book. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
A mayor found dead in his wine cellar on his 57th birthday.
A local establishment determined to brush it under the carpet.
Two local detectives who don’t exactly get on.
As they uncover the dark secrets behind Daniel Slansky’s murder, will they even live to tell the tale?
The Tainted Vintage is an elegant crime novel set in Eastern Europe.
The atmosphere is quite dark, with drugs and alcohol in wide use, and our two main protagonists living difficult, or bleak and lonely lives.
The plot twists and turns, taking us from wine tasting, through drugs, gambling, anti-Semitism and child abuse, so there are plenty of possible motives and suspects for the murder under investigation.
Throughout the story it is clear that Dvorska, our female protagonist, is desperately seeking a justice that no-one else is interested in, and that may not even be possible in the location, culture and time.
Some of the plot twists were truly surprising, and I can’t say I guessed at all, who did it or why until it was explicitly laid out in the big reveal at the end. Which is one of the major things I look for in a mystery!
I did find that the detached narrative voice and stark tone of the writing made me feel slightly unengaged from the characters and their struggles, and it was only partway through the novel that I really got the sense that the main characters were able to engage with each other at all as working partners.
Generally though a very good crime read, perfect for fans of Forbrydelsen or Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano.
Dvorska was sure that she and Ivan had been sent there for the sake of appearances, because a dead mayor was by definition high profile, and of course because no-one else wanted to touch it. She wondered why they had been called out at all, so soon. The fat feminist and the misogynist – what a team.
– Clare Blanchard, The Tainted Vintage