Wednesday, May 28, 2014

I Will Have Vengeance by Maurizio de Giovanni

First Sentence: The dead child was standing motionless at the intersection between Santa Teresa and the museum.

Commissario Luigi Alfredo Riciardi is cursed by being able to see and hear the last few seconds of those who have died violently. He is called to Naples’ San Carlo Theater. The world’s greatest tenor, Maestro Arnaldo Vezzi, has been found murdered in his dressing room. He sees the shadow of the victim dressed in clown costume singing part of the aria from Pagliacii, “…I will have vengeance…” Although Vezzi had millions of adoring fans, he was generally hated by those who knew him. However, many depended upon him for their very livelihood. So who hated him enough to kill him?

What a fascinating, yet heart-rending, introduction to the character of Riciardi. The description truly paints a picture so vivid, you are grateful the character has his colleague, Brigadier Raffaele Maione. Maione death of his son in a tavern fight ensured Maione’s strong loyalty to Riciardi. Women are attracted to Riciardi, but the only woman in his life is Tata Rosa, who looks after him and his house. Riciardi is a man who doesn’t make assumptions, but seeks out the proof before making an arrest.

The setting is wonderful. This isn’t the Naples of tourists. It is the Naples during the early years of Mussolini. It is the Naples of those who live there; of the wealthy and the poor and the superstitious. 

This is a book about opera. Through the character of an opera-loving priest, we are provided information on the two operas being performed and the workings behind the scenes. This information is fascinating and will be enjoyed and appreciated by those who are opera fans, as well as those who are not. Even aside from the world of opera, the story points out the impact the death of a star can have on those who work for them.

There is a wonderful wistfulness to the story in the relationship between Ricciardi and a woman he has never met, but that he sees every day through a window across the way. There is a sub-theme about dreams unable to be realized.
When reading the book, do not ignore the excellent notes from the translator. They certainly answered one question I had.

I Will Have Vengeance” is different, unusual and unique; all in very positive ways. The story is completely intriguing. This is an author from whom you’ll want to read more.

I WILL HAVE VENGEANCE (Pol Proc-Comm. Ricciardi-Naples, Italy-1931) – Ex
de Giovanni, Maurizio- 1st in series
Europa Editions, 2012

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