Friday 21 May 2021



Synopsis/blurb ....

'Except for the ugly brown bullet hole, the corpse could have been the image of the man in the mirror.'

Lukas Stolz, an ex-East German math's guru is shot dead outside the Hotel Napoli in Milan. But Lieutenant Conza of the Guardia di Finanza is not convinced the bullet was meant for Stolz. His investigations lead him to Nyala Abebe, a young Ethiopian emigre who may be a vital witness.

The gang behind the murder will stop at nothing to cover their tracks and Lieutenant Conza finds himself in conflict with powerful and influential adversaries.

He soon realises he's out of his depth as he seeks answers and begins to uncover the secrets behind the Milan Contract.

Very tense. Very twisty. A fantastic plot. Great writing. Interesting characters. European setting. 
What more do you want?

From the get go, this one grabbed me. A man is murdered outside a hotel. A man who looks just like him witnesses the crime and flees. Who is the target? Fortunately we have Lieutenant Conza on the case.

Our murder investigation, inevitably embraces a couple of missing person cases - the doppelganger and the young kid who fled on the moped. In Conza, we have an interesting, capable, honest detective, who with the backing of his boss manages to avoid stepping on too many toes within the various branches of the Italian police and authorities to dig for answers.

Assassination, disappearance, organised crime, black ops types, government secrets, gangsters, big business, family history, East German upbringing, split loyalties, the Stasi, betrayal, death, immigrant innocents, manipulation, coercion, control, surveillance, CCTV, tapes, flight, fugitive, a manhunt, an investigation, police corruption, police cooperation, a hitman cleaning house and tying up loose ends.

Brilliant, fascinating, complex, engrossing, compelling.

It's hard to believe this is a debut novel. I'm looking forward to what Stephen Franks serves up next.  

4.5 from 5

Read - April, 2021
Published - 2020
Page count - 322
Source - review copy from author
Format - paperback


  1. I can see why this appealed to you, Col. It sounds like a very good mystery puzzle. I'm not usually one for the black ops sort of thriller context in a novel, but it sounds like that's used quite effectively here. Glad you enjoyed it.

  2. Stephen Franks21 May 2021 at 05:04

    So glad you enjoyed this one Col. When you write your first novel, there is always the danger of being told that you need to take up underwater basket weaving instead of trying to be an author! I've since found out that writing a book is infinitely easier than getting it read....which is why I am so grateful that you expended a piece of your life to my work....

    1. Stephen, thanks for the chance to read it. You've done yourself proud Sir.