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  • Reviews for Holy Smoke by Tonino Benacquista
  • Holy Smoke |  Tonino Benacquista
Reviews for Holy Smoke by Tonino Benacquista

'This prizewinning novel is guaranteed to keep you up late at night, driven to discover the ending. Its exciting, funny and bizarrely even includes tips on cooking Italian food; it makes you glad they decided to translate the novel into English.'

- Coventry Evening Telegraph

'A story of wine, miracles, the mafia, the Christian Democrats and even love…Benacquista improves at every outing.'

- Libération

'Dodging the mafia and even the Vatican produces an enjoyable story with touches of dark humour and more serious reflections on Italy's wartime history.'

- The Sunday Telegraph

'Bitter Lemon Press has a terrific black comedy by Tonino Benacquista on its list. HOLY SMOKE , which won France's Grand Prix de la Littérature Policière when it was first published in 1991, sends its smug Parisian narrator back to his despised birthplace in southern Italy after he inherits a vineyard from a murdered friend. Written in breakneck style (in a clear-as-a-bell translation by Adriana Hunter), the story is both a blasphemously funny satire of provincial Italian chicanery and a wry acknowledgment of the ambivalence that ambitious immigrants feel about their roots.'

- New York Times

'Boisterous black comedy…funny and good-hearted, with much incident and expert enthusiasm for sex, food and drink. Welcome to the publishers…Benacquista gives them a good start.'

- Literary Review

'Set in the Italian immigrant suburbs of Paris, HOLY SMOKE by Tonino Benacquista, is a noir mystery involving wine, song, childhood friends, and the Mafia. It also manages to drag in old partisans not quite done with World War II, as well as the business end of the Catholic Church-all while wrapped in an indolent air of smoke and hazy summer bus trips from Rome. Bitter Lemon Press is a new, London-based publisher featuring literary thrillers from abroad in their first English translations. Holy Smoke is a great introduction to their gritty and gripping imports.'

- Politics and Prose (Washington DC)

'HOLY SMOKE! This tale is a terrific twisted look at crime from the perspective of a small timer who is being squeezed by organized groups who want the whole action. Tonio is fabulous as a minnow suddenly swimming with sharks. Fans will appreciate his distinction between the two outside "mobs ". The story line satirizes criminal behaviour (a crime is defined by the state) to include organized religion as a subcategory of crime. Tonino Benacquista provides a delightfully droll dark thriller.'

- Harriet Klausner

'HOLY SMOKE careers around covering food, wine, religion, miracles and some old Italian history. It's black humour at its finest, and a caper novel which whisks you along in its slipstream. Tonino Benacquista -- born in France of Italian parents -- is clearly one hell of a writer. The book's witty, pacy and exciting and an all-round tremendous read. Kudos, again, to Bitter Lemon Press's translator Adriana Hunter, who appears to have done the award-winning book justice with a translation that feels relaxed and with an authentic feel to the sharp backchat.'

- reviewingtheevidence.com

'An entertainingly cynical story. I read it in one sitting.'

- The Observer

'The phrase "black comedy" was invented for just this kind of book. Tonio irreverently inveighs against romantic love, cancer and the suburbs of Paris.'

- Washington Post
'Much to enjoy in the clash of cultures and superstitions, in a stand-off between the mafia and the Vatican. And a tasty recipe for poisoning your friends with pasta. Detail like this places European crime writing on a par with its American counterpart.' - Belfast Telegraph

'The first translation of one of France's leading crime and mystery authors. It was his fourth novel and scooped most of the genre awards. A picaresque dark comedy. When the hapless hero organises a religious scam all hell breaks loose, and matters become both comic and highly treacherous. An iconoclastic chronicle of small time crooks and desperate capers, with added Gallic and Italian flair. Wonderful fun.'

- The Guardian
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