Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Review: MY MOTHER-IN-LAW DRINKS, by Diego de Silva
My Mother-in-Law Drinks isn't really so much a crime novel- there's no particular mystery, or crime that's being solved- as it is one very dramatic day in the very dramatic life of one Vincenzo Malinconico, an Italian criminal defense lawyer whom readers may have met in Diego de Silva's wonderful 2012 book, I Hadn't Understood. Vince', as he's called, is a bit of a loser. His law practice is a joke, and while he's had lots of problems with women in the past, things seem to be looking up. As this second installment opens he's living with the very desirable Alessandra Persiano, won in the first book. He's getting along better with his kids now and he's sticking up for himself with his ex-wife Nives. And he's got a great relationship with Assunta, his mother-in-law, who's just found out she has cancer.
All this comes into play in the aftermath of a very difficult situation in which he finds himself one day at the grocery store. Armed with a gun, an otherwise unremarkable computer engineer has taken control of the store. He has become unhinged after his son was killed in a case of mistaken identity and his killer allowed to go free thanks to the Italian court system. He tracks down the man he believes is responsible, a mafioso on the run but hiding in plain sight. And he takes Vince', the mafioso and another supermarket employee hostage, intending to try the man with Vince' acting as defense attorney. The aftermath of the hostage situation makes Vince' a temporary celebrity and while it seems like things might be looking up, Vince' is falling apart.
The story is told through the normally fractured Vincenzo's even more manic than usual narration owing to the trauma he's suffered. A characteristic of this series is his tangents and stories that pepper the narrative; he can't just tell you what happened, he's got to relate analogies and anecdotes and examples, and if you like his voice it's immensely enjoyable. I love these books; I love the asides and parentheticals and all his talk and nonsense. It's fun. The story itself is pretty simple; man tries to put his life back together after a trauma, and succeeds more or less, even if he doesn't come away unscathed. De Silva leads one important thread dangling at the end of the book, and I really hope he picks it up in the next one. And I hope there is a next one!
This is my first read for the 2015 Europa Challenge. Come on over to the blog & check it out.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book from Europa Editions for review.