Thursday, June 13, 2013
Review: I WILL HAVE VENGEANCE, by Maurizio de Giovanni
Whew. That was my first reaction to finishing this firecracker of a who-dun-it by Italian crime writer Maurizio de Giovanni. Set in 1931 Naples during Mussolini's reign, I Will Have Vengeance tells the story of the murder of Arnaldo Vezzi, a larger-than-life tenor and star of the opera. An all-around jerk, Vezzi is pushy, arrogant, bossy, self-centered- and extremely talented. But he is a star, and the livelihoods of many people depend on him, so he's catered to and deferred to, at least until he crosses the one person in his life most vulnerable to his mercurial temperament.
Commissario Ricciardi, a reclusive bachelor from an aristocratic family, is assigned the case, because Ricciardi has an impressive track record when it comes to tracking down murderers. He also has a secret- he can see visions of the dead in their final moments. This ability is a liability and an asset; he can gain valuable clues but the images can also mislead him. They are also very traumatizing for him, and the emotional suffering he feels at being so close to death, all the time, is one reason why he is so reclusive. Other policemen think he's weird and avoid him, except for Brigadier Maione, who feels a kinship with the troubled detective.
And away they go. Along the way we meet a colorful cast of theatrical characters, get a taste of life, death and police politics under Mussolini and experience Naples of the 1930s. The plot proceeds briskly, peppered with lots of details of time and place. Ricciardi arrests a suspect, but it becomes clear that that's only the first step to solving this crime. Ricciardi believes all motives can be boiled down to two basic principles, love and hunger, and bases his investigative technique on a psychological as well as physical examination of the crime and those close to it. When he learns the truth about this one, he has to ask himself some hard questions about what justice really means, and how best to pursue it. A must-read for crime fans, I Will Have Vengeance is a home run; I can't wait to read the next de Giovanni in my pile!
This is my tenth book for the 2013 Europa Challenge!
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Europa Editions.