Friday 12 May 2023

Skin Deep by Antonia Lassa BLOG TOUR #SkinDeep @letxenike T. @CollinsJacky @CorylusB #BookReview #AntoniaLassa


When police arrest eccentric loner Émile Gassiat for the murder of a wealthy woman in a shabby seaside apartment in Biarritz, Inspector Canonne is certain he has put the killer behind bars. Now he just needs to prove it. But he has not reckoned with the young man’s friends, who bring in lawyer-turned-investigator Larten to head for the desolate out-of-season south-west of France to dig deep into what really happened.

Larten’s hunt for the truth takes him back to the bustle of Paris as he seeks to demonstrate that the man in prison is innocent, despite all the evidence - and to uncover the true killer behind a series of bizarre murders.

Skin Deep is Antonia Lassa’s first novel to appear in English.

Skin Deep by Antonia Lassa is published in paperback on 15 May 2023 by Corylus Books and is translated from the Spanish by Dr Jacky Collins. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this Blog Tour 

I really enjoy translated fiction, especially crime fiction, and Corylus Books have some great authors on their list. I've read quite a few from this small publisher now and have always been impressed. I also like a short, snappy read, and Skin Deep is most certainly that. The paperback edition is just 114 pages long, but it is jam packed full of intriguing and cleverly created characters and a murder case that is very well plotted, with a shocker of an ending. 

Whilst the book is set in France, it was actually written in Spanish, and Dr Jacky Collins' translation is done really well, she captures the French feeling whilst allowing English speaking readers to fully follow the plot line and the advancement of the characters. 

A very wealthy eighty-year-old woman is found dead in a seedy apartment in Biarritz. Madame Elisabeth Audiard's has been murdered, and her naked body has been brutally disfigured by her killer. Inspector Canonne is the police officer in charge of the investigation. He's a deep, complex man, obsesses with the failure of his dental implant and also by the apparent failing relationship with his wife. It would seem that this investigation takes second place to him at first, and the author cleverly incorporates the idea of his missing tooth, with the missing evidence from the murder, it's a nice touch and elegantly woven through the story. 

However, Caronne soon discovers that Madame Audiard had a much younger, secret lover and it is this man;
 Émile Gassiat, who becomes the prime suspect, especially when strange codes are found on his computer that seem to match the patterns left on the victim's skin.

Gassiat had more than one elderly lover though, and it is one of the other women in his life, 
Irène Duroudier,  who engages Albert Larten to try to prove that Émile is innocent. Larten is a lawyer who often does private investigations of his own. A shrewd, unusual man, who travels around in a camper van whilst wearing nail polish and lipstick, Larten is central to the whole book and really lifts the story. 

I found this short, pacy novel absolutely fascinating. I feel that it must be quite difficult to pack such a complex and cleverly woven plot into so few pages, but this author has achieved just that. For me, the characters really made the story, each and every one of them with their own flaws and their own individuality. 

I look forward to reading more from this author and would recommend Skin Deep highly. 

Antonia Lassa - author

Born in Paris, Antonia Lassa is an enologist who works as a consultant for different private wineries around the world. 

This passion for wine has been instilled in her singular detective Albert Larten, for whom each new investigation is like a meticulous tasting. 

Wine is savoured through the eyes, the nose and the mouth, just like the crimes found in Skin Deep, with readers being invited to get involved with their five senses.

Antonia Lassa is the pseudonym of Luisa Etxenike.

Twitter @letxenike

Jacky Collins - translator

Dr. Jacky Collins, lecturer in Spanish and Latin American Studies at Stirling University, is the Festival Director for Newcastle Noir.
As ‘Dr Noir’ she regularly interviews a range of internationally acclaimed and emerging crime fiction authors at national and international events.
Her series of author ‘consultations’ on the Newcastle Noir YouTube channel - The Doctor Will See You Now - is where lovers of everything crime fiction can catch up on news about latest publications.

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