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The Devil Returns To Take Back What's His
The Devil's Garden - Richard Montanari
Member Name: cazkins
The Devil's Garden - Richard Montanari
Advantages: An absorbing read, interesting and different, vivid
Disadvantages: No real detective work to do, see review
I've read and reviewed a previous book of Montanari's, Play Dead, but don't recall much of it. I came across this and recognised the name, plus the blurb on the back, along with the tagline on the cover ( 'One family fight...to the death) sounded interesting. Fortunately, this didn't let me down.
The Devil's Garden falls within the crime thriller genre and opens by introducing us to a world 4 years prior to the present day in the rest of the novel. This world is dark and mysterious, a place in Estonia, where three girls are born, one lost to stillbirth. We learn about Aleksander, the father, who learns after the birth that the twins girls have been taken away. He believes in a fairytale, a story from history, of a deathless prophecy. To fulfil this he needs his daughters.
Fast forward to 4 years later and we're introduced to Michael Roman, a prosecutor for the New York District Attorney's office. He's a popular and successful guy, living a happy life after a not-so-happy childhood, with his wife Abby. Their family has been completed by twin girls, aged 4. You guessed it, the girls from Estonia. We learn of illegal adoptions, then of a man, Viktor Harkov, being murdered. Harkov was involved in these adoptions, but who killed him and why is puzzling the detectives, with no clues being left behind with which to hunt the killer down.
As the book continues the plot thickens and we see, without giving away more than is in the blurb, a father hunt down his children. But Abby and Michael are Charlotte and Emily's parents now, and it appears that Aleks doesn't need these girls alive to get what he wants; to be deathless. Can the Roman's, or the detectives, figure out what's going on before it's too late?
I found this book to be quite absorbing, and managed to sit and read it contently without wanting to stop. The plot was fairly well developed and interesting, and even though it may not have taken genius to figure out, it felt like it had a good structure and made sense. I guess if you're looking for something where you can play detective then this probably isn't it though. The characters had enough depth, and the scenes were vivid enough, to imagine what was happening and empathise. All of these things added together to make this an easy but enjoyable read, without confusing the reader with detail and a web of unmemorable characters.
The only downside was like I've just commented upon really; there's not much in the way of detective work for the reader to do. I didn't find that a negative thing, however, because it was easy to read and absorbing. There were a few moments when I thought 'why can't you see that?', 'why don't you do this...?', but they didn't distract from the overall enjoyment of the novel. I guess in that sense, the characters were a slight let down, but not enough for me to dismiss recommending the novel. The tale behind Aleks and what he believes wasn't that believable, nor was the children's ability to hone into their past life, but it still managed to read well. It still retained its suspense and creativity, and the Russian / Estonia / Folklore aspects gave it an edge that set it apart from other crime thrillers.
On the back is the comment: 'The unforgettable new thriller from the Sunday Times bestselling author', along with praise from Tess Gerritsen, another author I like: 'A relentlessly suspenseful, soul-chilling thriller that hooks you instantly'.
Overall this is a book I'd recommend for its ability to draw the reader in and create a vivid scene, leaving you wanting more.
RRP £6.99, selling on Amazon for £4.69 (paperback).
387 pages including epilogue over 59 chapters.
Summary: One for those wanting a book to get lost in that doesn't require your detective's brain