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Book Review: Blowback by Peter May

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Blowback by Peter May

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Fans of the Enzo Files series will be pleased to learn that the 5th in the series, Blowback, is due for release on March 1, 2011. I was fortunate to receive an advance review copy from the publisher.

Blowback

by Peter May

Poisoned Pen Press, March 1, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-1590588437

Paperback, $14.95

My copy: digital galley from the publisher

The Review: Enzo Macleod, the Scottish ex-pat forensic scientist is back and pursuing the fifth of seven cold cases that he bet a colleague he could solve. In Blowback, Enzo sets out to solve the murder of a celebrity chef 8 years earlier. The story is a classic whodunit with a variety of likely suspects – all with a motive of their own for killing Marc Fraysse: Elisabeth, the aloof widow; Guy, the prodigal brother who mended fences with his brother only after he became rich and famous; Anne, who was reputed to have been having an affair with Marc; Georges, Anne’s husband and Marc’s #2 in the kitchen. There’s even a food critic who hated Marc enough to have potentially done him in. Once again, Enzo has the fortuitous good luck to encounter another crime scene that has been remarkably well preserved. The shack where the murder took place still stands, all evidence from the time is readily available, and the widow hasn’t changed a thing about Marc’s desk and private files even though he’s been gone for nearly a decade. How lucky.

That said, one thing I liked better about Blowback than Freeze Frame was that there was a healthier dose of actual forensics in it. Enzo Macleod is a forensics expert after all, and this story included a lot more detailed forensic analysis than the previous book did. Another interesting approach that May used in this book came in the form of an encrypted document that Enzo found (and naturally cracked into) on the victim’s computer. Marc had been working on his memoirs and so, as Enzo reads those notes, entire passages of this novel are literally told in the first person by the deceased. This was a really creative way of bringing first-hand information about the victim to light. As we have come to expect from these stories, the plot has its share of twists, love connections and dangerous encounters, all of which keep the reader eagerly turning the pages (hence my single-sitting completion). The context of this story – the death of a 3-Michelin-star chef – introduces another treat: mouth-watering descriptions of high-end French food and lengthy discussion of fine wines. It also treats us to an insider’s peak into the melodrama, creativity and hard work involved in earning and maintaining 3 Michelin stars. As someone who has spent the early weeks of this year buried in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, this was an especially welcome angle for me.

Additionally, Blowback delves a little deeper into Enzo’s past and his relationships (both past and present) than any of the previous novels have. As a whole, it serves to add even more depth to an already interesting and well-developed character. I look forward to the last two installments in the series (at least, I assume there will only be 2 more since there are only 2 more cases in the bet). Hopefully by the end of the seventh, we’ll even find out who’s been trying to kill Enzo this whole time!

The Bottom Line: another solid whodunit that is both well-conceived and creatively told.

This review originally appeared on The Lit Witch: A Book Blog

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