What a roller coaster of a book Zodiac by Anamaria Ionescu is! A beautiful translation from Romanian published by the newly editorial enterprise of Corylus Books, it leads the reader through a maze of facts and characters - so many characters - as well as harsh rivalries between various branches of intelligence agencies.
The entire reading experience looks like a race, that starts slowly, as a casual jogging and ends up as a fight for survival. Of the fittest, obviously.
Zodiac is the second installment of what the author calls Sergiu Manta series, but you don´t have to read the first book in order to understand what it is all about. There is enough information about Sergiu Manta in the story, and believe, me, by enough I meant a lot of information.
Manta, together with a couple of colleagues from law enforcement institutions is called to investigate successive murders that although targeting persons of different status do have a certain pattern, including a mysterious mark left on the victims´ body. The investigation that takes place in various locations in Romania, in Bucharest and the mountainous region of Voineasa, and opens up a complex web of facts and characters with well hidden secrets, complicated histories and human weaknesses. Maybe there are way too many human weaknesses for their jobs but...remember James Bond?
Neither of the characters are what they seemed to be and this is what makes this relatively short yet intensive read hard to put down.
What I also liked about the book is the local ambiance and the many references about the recent Romanian history, which as the story from Zodiac, is far from being simple and that can be also read as a Noir story.
I am personally very curious about the next titles the courageous edition project of Corylus Books will bring on the English-speaking market and I am definitely happy that works of authors from this part of the world are translated and thus made available to a wider audience. Many of them deserve it.
Rating: 4 stars
Disclaimer: Book offered by the publisher in exchange for an honest review