One of the events I’m most excited about this year’s Llandeilo Lit Fest is:
Crime And Cocoa

What do crime and chocolate have in common? Find out whilst nibbling on your favourite comfort food and discover whether you like your crime dark, milky or vanilla… With Huw Francis, Sally Spedding and Phil Rowland supplying the crime readings and Heavenly supplying the chocs.

I do like the chocolate supplier / sponsor’s fare so I had to delve into the work of the authors participating.

First up is Phil Rowlands and his impressive novel Siena.

Welsh artist Sara Llewellyn’s husband and young son are killed by chance during the shooting of a wealthy Italian in London. The killer disappears and Sara’s pain and grief drive her to the edge of madness. She hides away as her life spins out of control until she meets a Canadian academic researching his Welsh roots. He helps her find some balance and light and provokes a positive start to her recovery. She goes to Italy alone to find answers and is drawn into a world of art, culture, beauty and betrayal that leads to a shattering discovery at the explosive climax of the Palio in Siena.

This is a moody novel with a strong focus on the rather exceptional main character Sara. There’s an oddity to her grief and subsequent character development that keeps the reader fascinated. For chapters after the tragedy it isn’t quite clear whether she will become a detective of her own or a criminal. As the book progresses and her recovery, too, the plot heats and speeds up and what happens in Siena truly is gripping and addictive crime writing at its best. It’s rare that characters in crime fiction stays with me for as long as Sara did. An unexpected find and treat and somewhere in the region of caramel and praline for me. Enjoy!

You can buy the book on amazon with the link below and feel free to check out his website