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SOMEONE ELSE
by Tonino Benacquista
Bitter Lemon Press, September 2005
285 pages
$14.95
ISBN: 1904738125


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

I loved Tonino Benacquista's first book HOLY SMOKE, which featured a French-Italian bloke who inherited a dodgy vineyard in Italy. SOMEONE ELSE has something of the same black humour.

I should say at the outset that it's one of those book that's OK. It's not a grabber. It's not a lot of things, in fact. It's sort of suspense, I suppose, but not a thriller and not really crime fiction even in the widest sense. Instead, it's a measured look at whether two people can become someone else . . .

Two men meet on a tennis court at a Paris club and take part in an epic struggle. Afterwards they talk in the bar and resolve to change their lives -- and to meet three years later to see where they are with their new direction.

From then on the point of view alternates. And it's difficult to say too much without giving the plot away, but picture framer Thierry wants to become a PI, and Nicolas doesn't seem to know what he wants to be -- except getting off the corporate ladder if he can.

Thierry's scenes grabbed me the most, and he goes to great lengths to change what he is and what he does. Nicolas's scenes meander -- rather like his life -- but his change of direction comes in a rather unexpected way.

What works best are Benacquista's sharp-eyed portrayals of people, ranging from Thierry's ever so respectable but really rather dull girlfriend, to Nicolas's mysterious woman friend and the fairly ghastly businesspeople he works with every day.

SOMEONE ELSE is an easy enough read, but by the end it's a bit so-what. And it's a book difficult to categorise. It's not an awful book, incidentally, just nothing very much at all. I don't mind deadpan, but I could have done with a little more oomph! Once I set the book down I wasn't fussed either way about picking it back up again. If you haven't come across Benacquista before, go for HOLY SMOKE every time.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, December 2005

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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