The Mountain

Written by Luca D'Andrea

Review written by Jennifer Palmer

Jennifer Palmer has read crime fiction since her teenage years & enjoys reviewing within the many sub-genres that now exist; as a historian who lectures on real life historical mysteries she particularly appreciates historical cime fiction.


The Mountain
Quercus
RRP: £12.99
Released: November 30 2017
HBK

This thriller is set against the unfamiliar terrain of a mountainous region of Italy; as Salinger (a North American film maker) tries to exorcise his own demons by investigating a horrific triple murder from 1985 that occurred in the Bletterbach canyon.

The story is told by a native New Yorker while the action takes place in the Alto Adige, the Italian mountains. Salinger is a writer and director of documentary films who has taken the opportunity (when staying in the Dolomites in 2012) to investigate the work of the emergency teams who work in Mountain Rescue.   He is planning a series of films based upon on their work.   There is a horrible accident and Salinger feels terrible survivor guilt.  As a result he finds himself suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Why is he there?    He has an Italian wife, Annelise, whom he met in New York and they have a five year old daughter, Clara.  They are spending a few months in a house in Annelise’s native village of Siebenhoch.  Salinger loves the area with its picturesque winter mountain setting.  At first, he is unaware of the cultural differences between this close-knit community (where people are tight lipped especially with strangers), and the society he is used to (in his native America). 

The atmosphere of the Sud Tirol with its beautiful landscape envelops him. At first he loves the small though claustrophobic village atmosphere, especially the special celebrations around Christmas which are lovingly described by the author.

Salinger however becomes obsessed with a past crime in the Bletterbach - a canyon in the Dolomites full of fossils.  The brutal killing was in 1985, where three young people were murdered and their bodies dismembered and scattered by an unknown killer.   The topic is not one relished by the villagers whose fears of the Bletterbach relate to distant, as well as relatively recent events.  Salinger finds his questions about the past crimes are unwelcome, though he uses his investigation as a way of forgetting his own nightmares.  He suffers much physically and mentally as he struggles to find out the truth of the 1985 incident with only his love for his wife and daughter (Annelise and Clara) which anchors him to reality.

This is a very cleverly crafted tale.  The character of Salinger in particular, rings true in his violent reactions to any setbacks and his obsessional pursuit of his investigation.  The twists and turns are fast paced and continue to the dénouement, making the reader read late into the night.

Editorial note : translated from the Italian by Howard Curtis



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