The Savage Shore by David Hewson

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The Savage Shore by David Hewson

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: The tenth book in the Nic Costa series - published after a seven-year gap since number nine - sees the team in southern Italy with Nic Costa undercover. It was a good read and would standalone if you haven't read earlier books in the series.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288/12h10m Date: July 2018
Publisher: Severn House Publishers
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1780291062

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Reggio, in Calabria. It's a strange place, closer to Africa than Rome as Emmanuel kept reminding himself. He was an illegal immigrant and like most of his kind he was simply looking for a way to earn a decent living with a little dignity. Back in Nigeria he was an independent man and now he is no better than the monkey who sits in a cage on the bar he tends. The area is ruled by the Mafia. Further afield there are the Camorra and the Cosa Nostra, but here it's the 'Ndrangheta and the local boss is known as Lo Spettro - the ghost - as he's rarely seen, but he's one of the Bergamotti clan, but even that's not their real name.

Nic Costa's in the area but he's no longer a soverintendente from the Centro Storico Questura. He's undercover and now called Thomasso Leoni - Maso for short - and he has support from Teresa Lupo, Falcone and Peroni. Rosa Prabakaran is there, her feelings for Nic Costa on show to all who care to look and it seemed that she might be taken as a hostage by the Mafia. Something big is afoot: the local boss - Lo Spettro - is prepared to hand himself over to the authorities, to become a pentito on condition that he is allowed to go free when he lures other Mafia bosses into a trap.

For Costa it's hard work: he has to prove himself and this includes appearing to kill two men. That was the easy bit. The hard part is the physical labour which he has to do and also to live the life of a family member who has had to come to Italy from Canada, where he seems to have been in some trouble. It's difficult to stay in character but forgetting for a moment could mean death - and not just for himself. For the rest of the team - Teresa Lupo, Falcone and Peroni - who are holed up in a rented holiday villa - it's frankly boring for much of the time. They're not really tourists and until the Bergamotti clan decide that the time is right for the handover, there's nothing much for them to do. Except Peroni seems determined to involve himself in the local community...

It's difficult to balance the slowness of the action for much of the book with the danger that some of the characters are facing, but David Hewson does it well and I can't say that I was ever wanting the pages to turn a little faster. This is partly down to the fact that Hewson delivers a very compelling picture of southern Italy with its harshness and poverty. There's a sense that it's not really a part of Italy, that the capital, Rome, is more than just a long way away. I could almost taste the bergamot which grows in the area.

The characters come off the pages well, although I couldn't quite see what part Rosa Prabakaran played in the plot. I'd like to have seen more - or nothing of her. Most of the team play only bit parts, with Costa coming to the fore. This might detract from the story if you're a fan of other members of the team: I particularly wanted to see more of Teresa Lupo, but hopefully that will happen now that the series is back on track.

The plot is well planned and executed with some neat twists at the end which I really didn't see coming. It was a good read - and one which I finished rather more quickly than I intended. I'd like to thank the publishers for making a copy available to the Bookbag.

There aren't quite as many Italian crime series about as there used to be, but if you're looking for more you could always try the ever-reliable Donna Leon. If you'd like to know more about the Mafia we have a true story of an undercover cop who infiltrated the Mafia, but the book which will give you most information about the Mafia in Calabria is Into the Heart of the Mafia: A Journey Through the Italian South by David Lane.

David Hewson's Nic Costa novels in chronological order

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Buy The Savage Shore by David Hewson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Savage Shore by David Hewson at

Buy The Savage Shore by David Hewson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Savage Shore by David Hewson at


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