3 out of 4 stars
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The Dagger With Two Blades is a crime thriller by N. Scoto Bowen. Daniel Hooper, an American artist who paints in watercolours, visits Venice to show his art in a gallery run by Amedeo Paradiso. Arriving at the train station, he falls immediately for Mara Van Hoeven, a beautiful woman who appears equally smitten with him. Soon, she invites him to stay at the house of her uncle, Novak Nemkovich (or Nemno, as he calls himself). Mara has an identical twin sister, Nadja, who - she claims - likes to steal men from her for sport. Dan also meets the charismatic Artemi, a business associate of Nemno. Artemi enlists Dan's help in the clandestine surveillance of a nearby house under the guise of painting a picture of it. Dan quickly realises there is more to the situation than he could have imagined. Then somebody murders Artemi...
Bowen's writing is engaging right from the start. The story moves forward with plenty of momentum to hold the reader's interest. It is easily one of the more engrossing books I have read for Online Book Club, and I finished it in just two days. With a highly addictive plot, there are plenty of twists for lovers of mystery.
The prose is simple to read and the sentence construction is neat. Bowen uses commas perfectly, including the "Oxford comma" when listing multiple items. The descriptive passages are simple, without too many adjectives, giving an ease of reading which combines beautifully with the sense of intrigue in the plot. Dan Hooper tells the story in the first person, so we only learn details as he does, which adds to the mystery.
As for characters, the instant attraction and fast-developing relationship between Dan and Mara adds interest right from the start. Given the genre, I found myself suspicious of Mara's motives, simply because she and Dan seem to fall for each other so quickly. The characters are all developed nicely; one example is that Dan finds it increasingly difficult to produce quality paintings as the tension rises and the web of illegal intrigue grows more elaborate.
The only problem with this book is its typographical errors. I must note that these are very minor, such as the odd missing space, hyphen, or quotation mark. Further, there were only around fifteen errors in the entire book. With these fixed, this is a definite 4-star book, a highly entertaining mystery with a great plot, strong characters and an addictive story. Unfortunately, in its current state, I must rate The Dagger With Two Blades 3 out of 4 stars. It would suit any reader of crime fiction, especially those who love a good mystery. It does contain sex and violence, but neither is gratuitous.
The Dagger With Two Blades
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