Monday, June 9, 2014

Property of Blood by Magdalen Nabb

First Sentence: I’ll do my best to tell you everything but the things I remember are perhaps not what you need.

Kidnap is big business in Italy. An American-born model who married an Italian aristocrat worked for years to rebuild the family’s fortune and reputation after her husband squandered it all away. Now, she has been kidnapped and the crime reported to Marshal Guarnaccia by the daughter. Having established first contact, Guarnaccia is to act as liaison to the family. He soon realizes all is not as it should be and he also quietly works with his counterpart in the Tuscan hills, home of the Sardinian sheep families who are often involved in such kidnappings.

What a powerful, painful and scary opening! Yet at no point do you want to stop or turn away. As much as anything else, this is the story of a family and a strong woman. Much of the story takes us through her experience through a monologue that is as interesting as the investigation. It becomes easy to see how and why the “Stockholm Syndrome” comes to be. The story is also a condemnation of Italy’s kidnap laws and the judicial system.

The book has  a very strong sense of place and of proprietary. At one point, the Marshal doesn’t feel it is his place to question some people.

The Marshal, which is his rank within the Carabinieri—the law enforcement branch which is part of the army yet concerned with criminal investigation, serious crime and organized crime—is a fascinating character. By his rank, he is a non-commissioned officer, somewhat equivalent to a sergeant. He is something of a plodder; a thinker and an observer…”The Marshal pursued his usual policy of interrogation. That is, he kept quiet.” He doesn’t rush about, but mulls the tiny details. He isn’t a Colombo who wants people to underestimate him. He truly downplays his own intellect and significance. Although he is married with two sons, the focus is not on his family, but on him and the investigation.

Property of Blood” is a very good book with intriguing twists. More than a mystery, it is a character study. Sadly, I’ve only three books left to read in this series.

PROPERTY OF BLOOD (Pol Proc-Marshal Salvatore Guarnaccia, Florence, Italy, Contemp) – VG+
Nabb, Magdalen – 11th in series
Soho, 1999

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