Peace and Conflict by Irene Sabatini
Peace and Conflict
Robert, the narrator of this “mystery”, is a smart 10-year-old Zimbabwean-Italian boy who lives in Geneva. In a meandering storyline, a grumpy old neighbour becomes the focus of confusing intrigue. Obscure messages are exchanged and a precious curio switches hands. Robert’s callow imagination reaches various conclusions as he suffers the contempt of his irritating teenage brother. The writing is easy and likeable and apparently aimed at all ages, but it doesn’t always accommodate a gnarled adult perspective. A poignant backstory has Aunt Delphia brutalised in Zimbabwe for exposing corruption before she flees to Switzerland. The cruelty and violence of this subplot, when mixed with the mundane cosiness of Robert and his kin, make for a harsh, unpalatable blend. As a tale for kids it has lots of charm, even if it’s a touch convoluted and a wee bit Scooby-Doo. For adults it might, however, be a little cloying and uneven.