Monday 18 October 2021

A Dark Song of Blood by Ben Pastor BLOG TOUR #ADarkSongOfBlood @bitterlemonpub #BenPastor @RandomTTours #BookExtract


Rome, 1944. While the Allies are fighting their way up the Italian peninsula, Rome lives the last days of Nazi occupation. 

Their world falling apart, the Germans continue to vie for power while holding glittering and debauched parties. 

But this is also a time of Italian partisan attacks, arrests and mass executions. 

Baron Martin von Bora, an officer in the Wehrmacht, has the complex and delicate task of solving not one, but three murders. 

With Italian police inspector Sandro Guidi at his side, Bora sets off to establish the truth.

A Dark Song of Blood by Ben Pastor was published in April 2014 by Bitter Lemon Press and is number three in the Martin Bora series.

As part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour, I am delighted to share an extract from the book with you today.

Extract from A Dark Song of Blood
by Ben Pastor

ROME, 8 JANUARy 1944

Again, the airplane. And again, the animal. Same dream in all details, an obsessive sameness. Russia, last summer. I walk toward the fallen plane making my way through the black stumps of the sunflowers, fearing what I will find there. My brother’s voice is everywhere, but I do not understand one word of what he is saying. I only know it’s the voice of the dead. A blood trail preceding and following me. Then, the rest of the dream, as always.
I woke up in a cold sweat (this is also becoming frequent), and tried for a long time to stay awake. I only knew I was dreaming again when the sound of the animal behind me filled me with dread. It’s a quick, scraping sound, as of a large hound racing up stone steps. I climb and climb and the stairs wind around corners in a wide spiral; a blinding light comes from deep windows to the right. By inches the animal gains on me, and all I know is that it is female, and I will find no mercy with it. Its claws are like metal on polished stone, marble perhaps. I can’t climb fast enough to avoid it. Looking back into this diary, I can see the first time I dreamt this was the night before the ambush in September.

Martin Bora’s nightmares had been set aside by the time he walked into the Hotel Flora from the wide street, early in the morning. A tiger sky drifted white behind the city blocks, wrinkling here and there with striped, ribbon-like clouds. Via Veneto was filling with light like a slow river at the bend, on Saturday which promised to be a cold and clear day. His soul was secure inside, well kept, guarded. Anxiety had no room in his waking hours and, surprisingly, things that had been amusing were amusing still.

Half an hour later Inspector Sandro Guidi of the Italian police stood before the massive elegance of the same hotel, shielding his eyes. At the entrance he presented his papers to a stolid-faced young soldier. While he waited in the luxurious lobby to be let upstairs, he gave himself credit for not getting lost on his way here, but still wondered why the unexpected summons to the German command.

In the third-floor office, another wait. Beautiful wallpa- per, hangings around luminous windows. Behind the desk, a detailed map of the city, a crowded bulletin board, three moist-looking watercolors of old Roman streets. Paperwork lay on the desk, neatly stacked but obviously being pro- cessed. Several maps were folded in transparent sheaths under a notebook. Guidi had seen German aides once or twice. The crimson stripes on their breeches came to mind, and the silver braid draping right shoulder and breast in the ceremonial dazzle of army hierarchy. What could Gen- eral Westphal’s aide-de-camp possibly want from him? It was likely a formality, or even a mistake. But he could not mistake the voice coming from the door, because its Italian had no accent whatever.

Ben Pastor, born in Italy, lived for thirty years in the United States, working as a university professor in Vermont, before returning to her home country. 

A Dark Song of Blood is the third in the Martin Bora series and follows on from the success of Lumen and Liar Moon, also published by Bitter Lemon Press. 

Ben Pastor is the author of other novels including the highly acclaimed The Water Thief and The Fire Waker, and is considered one of the most talented writers in the field of historical fiction. 

In 2008 she won the prestigious Premio Zaragoza for best historical fiction.

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