Actually I’ve read the Italian edition of this book, titled “Profanazione”, therefore I will first review the novel, and then I’ll add my comment on the translation.
There are many aspects that make this novel interesting. Starting by the original topic; original to say the least.
The protagonist, a detective of Scotland Yard (and that in itself would be enough to interest me), runs into a complex case, connected to a business of grave desecration, plastination of corpses, up to the dissection of bodies when they are still alive. The topic is undoubtedly macabre and not suitable for the weak stomachs. I must say that sometimes this read disturbed me and, as it happens for good books, even so I could not stop reading.
The research work of Penn is fantastic. The wealth of detail with which she shows you the underworld and locations where these practices are carried out is such that you have the terrible feeling that everything is really happening right now.
Everything looks authentic, not only these details. The beautiful prose of the author takes you inside the head of the protagonist, draws you into her personal hell and makes you feel her, when all her world seems to collapse and she’s a step away from dying in a horrible way.
Finally, the addition of the supernatural element, which I generally don’t appreciate, however, is done with such skill that does not clash with the authenticity of the rest. Let’s say that it gives an extra touch of colour, although not entirely necessary, and provides the opportunity to introduce another character, with whom, apparently, the detective will share the stage again in future books.
In conclusion, I recommend reading this book, especially to those who are in search of stories out of the ordinary, but packed with the right features you’d expect in a good thriller.
In judging this book I wanted to make a clear distinction between the novel itself and the Italian edition I read (the one I have is the version made available in August 2014). Although the translation isn’t perfect, I still decided to make prevail my liking for this story in judging it, without being influenced by the evident absence of the figure of a proofreader with an expertise in translations, who could have easily identified the many small problems that affect this text. The translation itself is good, what is missing is just a finishing work that removes repetitions, makes some phrases smooth, prunes too literal or incorrect (with respect to the context) translations, fixes commas and usual typos (you can find them in all books, yes, but there are too many of them here, which is a further sign of the absence of another pair of fresh eyes working on the book).
In short, my final evaluation (5 stars) is only referring to the novel.
Profanazione on Amazon.