Thursday, 5 December 2013

River of Shadows and Blood Sisters - Two Italian Thrillers

River of Shadows

by Valerio Varesi

This novel is set on the foggy plain of the Po, and the river is rising after intense rain - the wide, placid summer river becoming a winter monster of churning currents and relentless spread. In the darkness, a barge casts off from its mooring mysteriously on the flood tide and no one knows if the owner, Tonna, is on board.  At the same time there's an apparent suicide leap from the window of a local hospital.

Commissario Soneri is called in to investigate.  He finds himself unraveling a nightmare that involves conflicts between Communist and Fascist that date back to the atrocities of World War 2, but which still divide parts of Italy today.  How can the Commissario know who is telling the truth, while avoiding the distractions of local food and wine and his barrister girlfriend, Angela, who likes high-risk sexual encounters in public places?  There's a slightly comic undertow to the darkness of the main plot.

The book is beautifully written, the characters and the location vivid and real, and the dialogue pitch-perfect.  I'm not sure that I completely understand the fine details of the plot yet, but the complex political nature of Italian daily life is one hundred per cent true to what I see around me.  

Top quality crime fiction - and I've just downloaded the next in the series.  At £2.57 for the Kindle edition it's cheap as chips!

Blood Sisters

by Alessandro Perissinotto

I'm a great fan of the Montalbano novels, also Donna Leon, and always on the lookout for a new Italian thriller writer to match my favourite locations with some good suspense.

This book was recommended by a friend and it's an enjoyable read with a good protagonist. Anna Pavesi is a psychologist by profession, newly separated from her husband and rather short of money. Having successfully tracked down the missing son of a rich Milanese, Anna finds herself being persuaded to look for a missing body. It's set in Bergamo and Milan, on the foggy plain of the river Po - an area I know well, having driven across it through fog and freezing fog many times! It adds considerable atmosphere to the book. 

There are some interesting characters in this novel and a couple of nice twists at the end. It didn't have quite enough edge for me and either the writing, or the translation, seemed to lack sparkle. But I would definitely read another of his novels, though at over £5.00 for a Kindle edition it's not a cheap read.

No comments:

Post a Comment