- Format: Kindle (Amazon)
- File Size: 324 KB
- Print Length: 216 pages
- Publisher: First published in Italian 2007, this English edition by Hersilia Press (February 13, 2012)
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00793NHSI
- Translated by Anne Milano Appel
- Title byline: THE WINTER OF COMMISSARIO RICCIARDI
Naples, March 1931: a bitter wind stalks the city’s streets, and murder lies at its chilled heart.
As one of the world’s greatest tenors, Maestro Vezzi, is found brutally murdered in his dressing room at Naples’ famous San Carlo Theatre, the enigmatic and aloof Commissario Ricciardi is called in to investigate. Arrogant and bad-tempered, Vezzi was hated by many, but with the livelihoods of the opera at stake, who would have committed this callous act?
Ricciardi, along with his loyal colleague, Maione, is determined to discover the truth. But Ricciardi carries his own secret: will it help him solve this murder?
This is the first in a series featuring an enigmatic Naples detective, Commissario Ricciardi, and set during the Fascist 1930s. Ricciardi inherited an interesting trait from his mother - the dead talk to him, appealing for justice. Sometime after their death, the images fade and they haunt him no longer. But just after they have died they pose puzzles about their death. You would think this might be advantageous for a homicide detective like Ricciardi but in fact the murder victim rarely tells him straight out who committed the deed. In the case of the murdered tenor Vezzi, Ricciardi picks up hints rather than proof.
So Ricciardi insists that he enter a murder scene alone for a few minutes at first, to see what the dead person has to "say". In the case of Vezzi there are things that just don't make sense. As always those higher up the order are pressing for a quick apprehension of the murderer. Vezzi is a house-hold word with even Il Duce's office taking an interest. When a young man confesses to the murder the Vice-Questore pressures Ricciardi to charge him quickly but he still feels that there are things that don't add up. Ricciardi's superiors find him prickly, rather uncompromising, and at times downright uncooperative. It is not secret that only his assistant Brigadier Maione will work with him.
While the series is set in Naples at the beginning of the 1930s I don't feel that the historical details are particularly influential. They really provide setting only. You are not going to learn much Italian history from reading this book. There is an interesting section at the end of the e-book where the translator explains some of the historical references. But after all de Giovanni's primary audience is Italian readers who know a lot about their own history, not non-Italians who know little. So the Italian reader will mentally fill in a lot of supplementary detail from a simple reference to, for example, the hairnet that Ricciardi wears to bed.
Overall though, a good read, and I will look forward to another.
My rating: 4.7
The others in the series:
#2. BLOOD CURSE: THE SPRINGTIME OF COMMISSARIO RICCIARDI
#3. EVERYONE IN THEIR PLACE: THE SUMMER OF COMMISSARIO RICCIARDI
#4. DAY OF THE DEAD: THE AUTUMN OF COMMISSARIO RICCIARDI
See a review at Crime Scraps