Rosie’s #Bookreview of #Thriller DEATH OF A LIE by Peter Harper

DEATH OF A LIE: Turning modern day history upside downDEATH OF A LIE: Turning modern day history upside down by Peter Harper

3.5 stars

Death Of A Lie is a thriller set mainly in Romania.

The story opens towards the end of World War Two with an aeroplane crash. Andrei and a friend were camping when a plane crashed nearby, and they picked up scattered paperwork from the crash and kept it as treasure. The story then moves forward fifty years; Romania is an unsettled country, with high inflation and riots. Andrei’s son, Lucian, rediscovers the papers from the plane crash in the garden shed. They have codes on them which look complicated, and he takes them to a friend to be deciphered.

Another leap forward in time and Lucian’s daughter has recently made some shocking discoveries about her parentage. While seeking answers, she travels to Romania to meet people who once knew her family, but is quickly entangled in sinister events. Shani must uncover the last days of her father’s life to save herself and those she has begun to care for.

Although this is a stand alone story, much of the narrative that surrounds Shani is connected to her story from a previous book, Cascade, which I haven’t read. I expected it to have a greater significance to this story but the author took the tale in a different direction.

The small number of characters works well, as does most of their dialogue, but on occasions I felt there was too much written in broken English or Romanian which became jarring to read. Just a sprinkling of both would have been preferable.

While there was a plausible twist to the end, which I liked, I felt that there were missed opportunities to make the story a chilling thriller through more layered suspense and tension.

Overall this was an okay read for me, though not quite the spine-chiller that I had hoped for.

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Book description

1944, and a Lend-Lease B-25 with its Soviet aircrew falls from the sky above Timişoara, Romania. Andrei Bălcescu, while camping out that night on his father’s smallholding, finds a battered folder amidst the plane’s wreckage.

Fifty years later, Andrei’s adopted son, Lucian, rediscovers the folder and its eight pages of encrypted material in a garden shed. He visits a childhood friend, who makes a start on cracking the code. Barely a week later, Lucian suspects he is being followed by persons unknown.

Present day, and Lucian’s daughter, Shani Bălcescu, a promising Oxford academic, continues to search for information on her family. When she receives a text from an individual claiming to have known her parents, curiosity takes her to Timişoara, where she soon regrets her impulsive nature. Witness to the aftermath of a vicious murder, and hearing that both Oxford and her home city of Prague have been ‘visited’, Shani knows that to leave Romania would prove fatal without first piecing together her father’s movements days before she was born.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview of #Romanian Cultural #Fiction Dear Comrade Novák by Silvia Hildebrandt @silvie1111

Dear Comrade NovákDear Comrade Novák by Silvia Hildebrandt

4 stars

Dear Comrade Novak is cultural fiction set in communist Romania during the 1980s.

The story follows the tales of three young people: Attila, a young Hungarian, Tiberius, the son of secret police parents, and Viorica, a gypsy girl. Each lives a very different life, but the 1989 Romanian revolution brings them together.

Attila lives a double life; a homosexual in a country with blinkered views on same sex relationships. He also rises to become a feared criminal interrogator.

Tiberius is groomed to follow his parents into the secret service. He agrees to a political marriage, but his true love has always been for Attila’s sister.

Viorica has always loved Tiberius, but her life follows an arranged marriage to a bully.

The author paints a good picture of the plight of the Romanians under the communist regime. Fear is rife; spies are everywhere as neighbours succumb to reporting on each other in return for payments from those in authority; poverty makes them desperate. Food shortages mean queuing for daily items and cars are considered luxury items, with a waiting time measured in years, for ownership.

I found the descriptions of life under communism very interesting. The main characters were harder to empathise with; I felt there was room for a deeper development of them all, so that the reader could become more emotionally attached. I wanted to feel more of the conspiracies and danger that the characters became embroiled in. Overall, a solid piece of fiction, but it needed a little more depth to lift it above an average read.

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Book description

A story about conspiracy and revolution, love and hate, and the strong power of friendship.

In 1980s communist Romania, three school graduates form an unusual friendship: 17-year old Attila, who’s in love with his 45-year old teacher; Tiberius, son of high class secret police parents; and the gypsy Viorica, who is forced into a marriage arranged when she was four.

When a conspiracy scandal throws their life upside down, all three of them will have to choose their sides: for or against the cruel tyrant Ceausescu.

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