Today we are jetting off to my favourite place in the world – Italy! However, something sinister seems to be going down…
The Savage Shore* by David Hewson brings back Detective Nic Costa as he’s sent undercover to infiltrate the mob in Italy’s beautiful, remote Calabrian coast. His job is to bring in the head of the feared mob, the ‘Ndrangheta, who has offered to turn state witness for reasons of his own. Hoping to reel in the biggest prize the state police have seen in years, the infamous Butcher of Palermo, Costa and his team are aware the stakes are high. But the constant deception is taking its toll. Out of their depth in a lawless part of Italy where they are the outcasts, not the men in the hills, with their shotguns and rough justice, the detectives find themselves pitched as much against one another as the mob. As the tension rises, it’s clear the operation is not going to plan. Is Nic Costa getting too close to the enemy for comfort – and is there a traitor among them …?
Like Finding Jess, this was another book that fooled me into thinking it was standalone. It was only after reading the exciting comments on Goodreads about the return of Nic Costa that I realised that this is one book of many in a series (the 10th book, in fact). But again, good news. It means you can jump right in on this wonderful read.
I have to admit that it took me a few chapters to get drawn into The Savage Shore. I found it a bit hard to follow. At the start of each chapter, there appears to be part of a historical story of the region and the mob family based there. I believe this to be part of the book written by the main family in this book, but I stand to be corrected. Also, in the first chapter, we have a scene which recalls something Nic must do in order to be accepted into the family before we move onto the entire story. I didn’t realise this at first and it confused me. However, don’t let what I write in this paragraph be a turnoff. Once I got into the swing of things, I was hooked.
The Savage Shore has a well thought out plot with just the right blend of action and tension. For every scene we have of Nic working undercover, we have a scene showing the frustration of his team as they try to sit tight without knowing what is going on.
Beyond this, we also have the relationship between the police and the mafia. Usually, at least in the mafia books I’ve read or films I’ve seen, both groups are taken as different entities. We either see the police trying to bring the mafia down or the mafia running schemes under the nose of the police. With Nic’s undercover role, we see both groups as human and this results in a much harder time in fulfilling their job. Is it possible to work closely with someone, good or bad, without developing some kind of feelings?
Of course, we then have the beautiful scene in which this book is set. This is a book of fiction but some elements are based on fact. You might recognize that Italy’s geographical layout is somewhat different. However, real or not, I found this remote area of the Calabrian coast enchanting. I especially enjoyed the romanticized countryside and I would travel there in the morning if I could.
Overall, this was a really good read. I need to check out more of the adventures of Detective Nic Cost. His charm has hooked me.
I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.