Tony's Reviews > Liar Moon

Liar Moon by Ben Pastor
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's review
Mar 07, 2012

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bookshelves: novels
Read in January, 2012

Set about four years after the events in Lumen, this second book in the Martin Bora series finds the aristocratic German Army officer stationed near Verona in northern Italy. The intervening years, including two on the Russian front, have taken their toll, and the sober officer is now even more cool and detached than before. The format of the story hews fairly closely to that of the first book: there's a main mystery, a secondary one, and a sidekick. Here, the main plotline follows the murder of a high-ranking civilian in the Fascist regime, and the Italians have asked for German help in investigating the murder. Meanwhile, there's an escaped convict roaming the countryside with a sniper rifle. Aiding him on the first matter, and asking for his help with the latter, is Italian police inspector Guidi.

The first book suffered from a plodding pace, and while this one isn't exactly a page-turner, there is slightly little more action and interest to it. The mystery is convoluted and there's a lot of back and forth between various suspects and witnesses. But the brittle relationship between Guidi and Bora is what sustains it -- as Bora can't afford to become too familiar or close to his Italian assistant he also struggles with loneliness. As with the first book, there's a lot of psychological heaviness -- lots of staring out windows, lots of denial, and general gloominess. Which is obviously perfectly in keeping with not only a book set in World War II, but one whose protagonist is on the side that lost not only the war, but moral standing.

The main storyline involves a lot of traveling to and fro in search of witnesses, evidence, etc. in what is really a fairly basic mundane murder, and the secondary plot about the sniper also involves lots of travelling around, but never really unfolds in a dramatic way. As in the first book, one can't help but feel that the book could have been improved immeasurably by the guiding hand of a good editor. If the first book was plodding, this one trudges along with a little more sense of purpose, and the details of wartime life are very convincingly displayed. On the whole though, I'm not sure I'll continue with the series beyond these first two books.

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