Source- Review copy provided by author
Publisher- BeWrite Books
Publication date- March 2012
Synopsis- Photojournalist Bart Zacharin’s camera doesn’t lie … but his mysterious new lover Minnie Cuff lies for a living.
Love-struck Bart can’t get that into focus until he follows her from Australia on her flimsily excused trip to Europe and becomes embroiled in an obscure web of international organised crime, deception and death.
Minnie’s a fake. Her humdrum job as a computer programmer, her deceptively carefree style, and passionate affair with Bart merely provide an innocent front for her sinister role as key player in a ring of ruthless museum raiders and smugglers of priceless artefacts.
Bart tries to take charge in a bid to reform her on a dash around some of Europe’s most colourful port cities that becomes a frantic race for life itself, with deadly danger throwing shadows at every twist and turn.
Fast moving yet poignant, Camera Obscura is one desperate man’s struggle with obsessive love that competes with a million-dollar crime empire: a search for meaning and belonging, thwarted by everyday happenstance and misfortune.
As in her previous novels ‘Death in Malta’ and ‘According to Luke’, the characters in ‘Camera Obscura’ become as real as Dingli’s meticulously researched locations. True paintings, stamps, and rare antiquarian books delicately spice pages that seem to turn in the wind as her breakneck-speed story keeps the reader in chair-edge suspense, right up to a startlingly unforeseen and unforgettable climax.
Review- Bart spots Minnie across the room, their eyes meet for a long minute before the café seems to crumble down around them. The only thing Bart can think of is to save Minnie, the woman that mesmerised him and is injured in the disarray. Despite having a sensible, loyal girlfriend at home Bart is drawn to Minnie- her bubbly youth and enticing eyes. He visits her in hospital until she is well and is devastated when she leaves Perth and returns home to England. Bart comes up with a flimsy excuse to travel overseas in his role as a photojournalist, breaks it off with his girlfriend and flies to Europe to find Minnie. It is clear that Minnie, a hacker is messed up in some criminal activities but Bart turns a blind eye because he is so infatuated with her. But the excitement she brings to their passionate affair isn’t so endearing when it means they are being chased by bad guys and Bart’s life is at risk.
At the outset I was intrigued by the mystery surrounding Minnie’s behaviour and Bart’s attraction to her that has him jet-setting across the world to try and find her. For him, she represents everything his life is not- exciting, unpredictable and risky. And perhaps Bart provides Minnie with a bit of sense and stability in the chaotic world she has created for herself.
However, by the half way mark I was still as confused as Bart about what on earth Minnie was up to and I started to get frustrated with both of these characters. Minnie seemed to just dismiss his questions and take Bart for granted while Bart naively just went along with whatever she said. I wasn’t sure what held them together beyond their physical attraction and the excitement of the unknown.
Minnie and Bart have people on their tails as they flee across France and find some momentary serenity in Malta where they think they may have outsmarted the bad guys. Coincidentally, Malta is where Bart’s step-mother resides and he meets with her to find out about his estranged father’s death and learn about the man he never got to know. Through his father’s diaries, Bart begins to see another side to his father, the side his mother wouldn’t share with him. Minnie and Bart become caught up in schemes of stolen artworks and rare, valuable stamps with very powerful people at play.
I enjoyed the mystery and exotic locations of Camera Obscura, but I did feel as though Minnie and Bart’s relationship at times hijacked the story so the suspense and action was a little dampened down. The last part of the story picks up and I was thrilled to see Bart get a back-bone and start to figure out what on earth Minnie is up to. A story that stretches across many genres- romance, suspense, crime- and many locations it’s an interesting compilation that seems to work from Australian author Rosanne Dingli.
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About the author: Rosanne Dingli had numerous articles, stories, reviews, columns and poems published Australia-wide and on the internet since 1986. She has worked as teacher, lecturer, workshop coordinator, magazine and corporate editor, travel consultant, cook, manuscript assessor, heraldic artist and business partner. Originally from Malta, she has travelled widely in Italy, the UK, Turkey, Greece, South East Asia, Holland, Belgium, and France as well as most Australian states. She lives in Western Australia with her partner Hugo Bouckaert, Belgian ICT consultant, biologist and philosopher, and their two children.
This book was read as part of the AWW2012 challenge: