Our long-standing contributor Elena Scialtiel has released her sixth novel in a series of police procedural noirs set in the fictional city-state of Rocky Cape, centered around the investigations of Chief Inspector Kay Xiarras and her multiethnic squad, including police dog Perf and his unlikely partner, spoiled-brat cat Mister Puss, a large and furry Maine Coon who is not only awesome at a cops-and-robbers game, but also at playing matchmaker.
Titled ‘Effetto Neve’ (Snow Effect) and featuring a dainty front cover designed by fine artist and trainee architect Giordana Bonenti, this Italian novel is published almost five years to the day Inspector Xiarras’s previous English adventure ‘Nepenthes’ was launched in Gibraltar.
‘Effetto Neve’ departs from the series’ trait of mixing some biological sci-fi in the plot, namely a genetically-engineered bloodthirsty plant in the rainy-Halloween ‘Nepenthes’, and the experimental queen-bee pheromone perfume in ‘Il Filo di Sutura’, co-winner in 2011 of an Italian nationwide prize for beginner novelists, alongside with Elena’s harrowing Drama ‘Il Califfo di Qasbat Al Noor’, set in wintertime Rif.
Instead, this novel tells about crimes of fashion, winery, drugs and diamond smuggling from Meknes to Marseille and Mulhouse, through the strait city of Rocky Cape, during the stifling week of July leading up to Bastille Day, under the muggy Levanter. Snow in July flurries through a spectacular bus chase across the airport just on time for an icy landing.
With the plot focused on a double homicide investigation, there is still time for glamour and romance for the young Inspector, tempestuous bromance in the ranks, alleged split loyalties, a baby on – and in – the way, and for the dramatic cliffhanger which will leave you fear for the destiny of one of the quirkiest and most beloved characters – while also revealing Kay’s real name, so far deemed to be “Rocky Cape Police’s best kept secret”.
Like in ‘Nepenthes’, mostly set in southern Andalusia (an imaginary mix of Ronda, Jerez and Malaga) with the participation of a sassy Spanish pathologist and an even sassier mature police officer, the five-strong core cast of ‘Effetto Neve’ welcomes new guest stars, like zealous rookie Ines Lietacalle and her French American fiancé Isaac Lenteille.
Their names abide to Elena’s signature rule throughout the series: most perps and some minor characters are named after anagrams of the author’s own name and surname – and there’s plenty more where they came from!
‘Absinthe’, an anthology of short stories featuring Kay Xiarras’s first case, ‘First Moves’, set in the betting company industry, is available online and at the John Mackintosh Library. ‘Nepenthes’ is on sale at the Gibraltar Museum and the Heritage Trust. ‘Il Filo di Sutura’, ‘Miss Mediterraneo’ (about Phoenicians and beauty pageants), ‘Il Califfo di Qasbat Al Noor’ and ‘Effetto Neve’ are available from Boopen.it and IBS.it.