Blood Rain

Thursday, 11 November 2010

When the posting to Sicily actually arrives, Blood Rain finds Zen in Catania in the shadow of Etna working for the Interior Ministry by keeping an eye on the investigations of the State Police's anti-Mafia operation. 

It's position that should, under normal circumstances, be relatively risk-free. The reader picks up fairly quickly that it's the people at the pointy end of investigations who are really putting their lives on the line, and it appears that Zen has finally landed the sinecure he's been looking for until the complications set in.

The first of them involves Zen's 'adopted daughter' Carla Arduini, a computer expert who's installing a new network in the anti-Mafia unit's headquarters. Again, her status as a back-room boffin would be expected to keep her out of the firing line but she attracts the attention of a female judge on the Mafia's hit list, and Carla's failure to realise the risks she's running and take appropriate precautions has lethal consequences.

At the same time as this is taking place, Zen learns that his aged mother is dying, and rushes to Rome, which is where he learns that he's suffered a second loss.

From there it's a matter of digging around to find those responsible for Carla's death, which brings him right into the middle of an ongoing feud between leading Mafia families. The latest episode in that feud started with the discovery of an unidentified, decomposed corpse, allegedly the son of one of the Mafia families, sealed in a wagon on a deserted railway line. 

The reprisals and predictable to-ing and fro-ing between the rival factions forms a lethal backdrop to Zen's investigations and he ends up, literally, on the run from both friend and foe right up to the highly ambiguous conclusion. Along the way Zen learns things he'd have preferred not to know as 'coincidence' piles onto 'coincidence' in a manner that suggests that they aren't coincidences at all.

It's a plot line where very few things are exactly as they seem, and the fallout from the case takes us into the next volume in the series, And Then You Die, played out against a backdrop where nothing much seems to be happening but the stakes are high.

© Ian Hughes 2012