Wednesday 21 February 2018

A Discovering Diamonds review of: The Falcon Strikes by Gabrielle Mathieu

AMAZON UK £3.84 £12.50
AMAZON US $5.27 $15.99 
AMAZON CA $20.12

second of a trilogy

Fantasy / Fictional Saga

This novel has been a unique read for me and left me rather wondering how to describe it. It is the second in a trilogy and I haven't read the first, leading, I suspect, to some of my indecision.

It is set in Ireland, both sides of the border, in the 1950s but the scenario played out there is a fantasy. As such it is maybe an odd choice again for Discovering Diamonds, but the pinpoint accuracy of the setting puts it firmly in the historical novel genre.

And then it diverts away from it into some odd Germanic film noir filled with odd characters and even odder props.

Peppa (short, yes, for Peppermint) Mueller travels to Ireland having left a traumatic experience in Switzerland, along with the man she loves, Tenzin Engle, another of the weird characters who is so not ordinary he is actually probably really annoying, being too good to be true. She is on the trail of a female called Silvia de Pena who orchestrated the traumatic events in Switzerland and Peppa needs to stop her doing it again. De Pena has a poison that makes people psychotic and Peppa was a test case for it. In Peppa it has awakened a totem, an inner creature that lurks in her subconscious and rears it falcon head when it feels threatened. She calls it Cora.

The novel could easily fall into clich├ęd nonsense – and in a few parts doesn't quite manage to avoid that. Silvia de Pena is a femme fatale straight out of a bad Philip Marlow-style detective story, seductive, intelligent, pure evil; the poison is named Compound Totentanz or simply Compound T, its partner in crime is Compound S, an unbelievably strong aphrodisiac made from the ludicrously named Strong Sprout. Doesn't sound very sexy, does it?

If the novel were just these elements then I might have laughed my way to giving up on it. But it isn't. Ireland of the 1950s is perfectly portrayed in such detail that you feel you are there. Ms Mathieu has made some sense of a complex political situation, neatly dividing Belfast into Green and Orange to help the reader, explains how and why splinter terrorist groups formed and manages to see both sides of the divide equally - equally corrupt and not to be trusted.

I suggest, read Book One first, as so much of this second novel relies on past events and it can be quite overwhelming, and coupled with the bizarre characters and names, it is tempting to not bother and give in, but you'd lose a compelling story and a building of tension that makes this a satisfying read. Different, certainly; off the beaten track, definitely; but ultimately pretty good!

© Nicky Galliers

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