Resilience by Bogdan Hrib trns Marina Sofia

Today I am thrilled to join the blog tour for Resilience, the brand new novel from Romanian author Bogdan Hrib and Corylus Books. Until last year I’d not knowingly read any books by Romanian authors, but thanks to Corylus that is now changing and I’m very glad about that. I think we’ve all been missing out on a treat not having had these books translated into English before. My thanks to the publisher for the advance copy of the book and to Ewa Sherman for inviting me to join the tour. Here’s what the book is all about:

Source: Advance Reader Copy
Release Date: 20 August 2021
Publisher: Corylus Books

About the Book

Stelian Munteanu has had enough of fixing other people’s problems: all he wants to do is make the long-distance relationship with his wife Sofia work.

But when a notorious Romanian businessman asks him to investigate the death of his daughter in the north of England, he reluctantly gets involved once more. This time it turns into a tangled web of shady business dealings and international politics.

Moving rapidly between London, Newcastle, Bucharest and Iasi, Resilience shows just how easy and dangerous it is to fall prey to fake news and social media manipulation.

My Thoughts

Opening with a tragedy, navigating the murky pathways of political activism and engaging a whole lot of mystery, tension and completely fascinating characters, this book caught my attention from the start and kept me engaged and entertained right to the last page. This is a geopolitical thriller which is steeped in authenticity and very much taps into the current obsession with social media and its use for more militant means.

We begin with a relatively simple case as one of our key protagonists, Stelian Munteanu, is hired to investigate the tragic death of a Romanian citizen who had been working in London and whose body is found on a beach shortly after she participated in a conference near Newcastle. All indicators are that this is nothing more than a tragic accident, but the further Munteanu is drawn into the case, the murkier the waters get. With another murder soon casting doubt on the innocent nature of the woman’s death, the stage is set for what is soon to become a very personal and politically driven case.

I really loved the mixture of political activism, the mystery and tension of the original investigation, and the very character based nature of this story. From the very beginning you can sense a shadow hanging over the whole investigation, a small clue from the opening pages of the book giving readers sight of something which will not be apparent to the key players in this tale for quite some time. It adds to the tension and uncertainty, makes you wonder just who really is pulling the strings and how dangerous this case could get for Munteanu and those around him.

As for the characters, I grew to like Munteanu very quickly. He is not your typical investigative hero, somewhere between an apparent journalist and a fixer, the man who is turned to when the truth appears to be just out of reach. He is dedicated to his wife, Sofia, although seemingly very tired of his current role and a reluctant participant in this particular investigation. Alongside him we have the official police team of Anton ‘Tony’ Demetriade and Anabella Pāduraru, and also slightly shadier character and member of Romania’s Secret Service, Ionescu. They add great variety and colour to the story, with Tony’s obsession with justice, coffee, and Anabella, and Ionescu being a very aloof and less than trustworthy acquaintance. Each is well drawn, their voices distinct, and I found them easy and engaging to spend time with as the story progressed.

The political side of the story rings horribly true, that overriding sense of nationalism and desire for independence which has been noted around Europe following the Brexit decision, and this informs the story and acts as a backdrop to the mystery that is rapidly building around Munteanu’s investigation. We have all witnessed the way in which social media is used as a tool to feed false information and stir up activism and extremism among the masses, and it is this kind of call to action that helps to build the tension, never quite knowing just how far this may lead and how dangerous the situation may all become. Bogdan Hrib brings the Romanian political, physical and social landscape to life in a way that gives you just enough detail to inform, but more importantly engages you as a reader in the fates of not only the characters, but also the country. He creates a clear vision of Romania, gives you a real sense of the people and the culture in a way that adds to the authenticity of what we are reading.

Brilliantly translated by Marina Sofia, this is a thriller which had me completely engaged and that kept the mystery building right to the end. There are moments of intensity, where the tension is high and the sense of threat and conspiracy is building, quieter moments of reflection which convey the uncertainty and the changing emotions of the characters involved in this tale, even some moments of flirtation and humour, all of which blend to make this a very entertaining read ending in quite a dramatic and unexpected showdown. From the final pages of the novel I can sense there is more to come and I am very intrigued to see where it will lead us to next.

About the Author

Bogdan Hrib was born in Bucharest, Romania in 1966.

Former journalist, civil engineer by education and now professor at the University in Bucharest, Hrib is the co-founder of Tritonic Books (1993) and has been instrumental in bringing other Romanian crime writers into English publication.

He was the vice-president of the Romanian Crime Writers Club (2010-2012), and the director/organizer of the International Mystery & Thriller Festival in Râșnov (2011-2015), as well as the PR coordinator of the History Film Festival also in Râșnov

He is the author of the crime fiction series featuring Stelian Munteanu, a book-editor with a sideline doing international police work. Kill the General (2011), the fourth book in the Munteanu series was Hrib’s first novel translated into English, won the Special Award of the Bucharest Writers Association (2012). The Greek Connection is Hrib’s second novel translated into English.

The novel Resilience, the sixth of the series, was published in May 2020, by Tritonic. The story A Bucharest Arrest was published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (March-April 2021)

About the Author

Marina Sofia was born in Romania but has lived in the UK for half of her life. She was a reviewer for Crime Fiction Lover for more than seven years and has also worked for Asymptote Literary Journal. Her previous translation for Corylus Books was Sword by Bogdan Teodorescu.

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