Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Everyone in their Place by Maurizio de Giovanni

First Sentence:  The angel of death made its way through the festa, and nobody noticed.
            
The beautiful Duchess of Camparino has been found dead of a gunshot wound…or was she smothered?   It is up to the solitary Commissario Riccardi and his partner, Brigadier Maione, to solve the crime while dealing with their own personal issues.
             
There is nothing better than an opening which is both compelling and done with very evocative descriptions.  What is particularly clever is that throughout the story, we have the diary entries of a nameless character.  Just when we think we’ve identified the writer, another hint is dropped and we are sent off in a different direction. 
            
The cast of characters is extensive, yet each character is distinct.  The most intriguing is Riccardi, who has the gift, or curse, of “the Deed”; the ability to see those who have died by violence—accidents, murder, or suicide—in the last few second of the life and to hear their final words or thoughts. This ability isolates him from all but a few people.  At his side, and ever loyal, is Maione who is married with five children, Doctor Modo the medical examiner, and Rosa, Riccardi’s childhood nanny who still looks after him.
            
While the story is a police procedural, it is so much more than that.  It is a character-driven novel which is very much about relationships; love, insecurities, passions, and the acts to which one can be driven by love.   The author meshes the characters with the story so skillfully; we feel part of the community.  Each character is fully-developed and we have no desire to by-pass any of them.
            
Yes, the translation can feel awkward at times, particularly the dialogue, but that is easily forgiven. The quality and complexity of the story overcome any other shortcomings.

EveryoneIn Their Place” is a story of passion and human weaknesses.  There are no perfect characters; but each one is perfectly conveyed.  This is a series I highly recommend.

EVERYONE  IN THEIR PLACE (Pol Proc-Comm Riccardi/Brig. Maione-Naples, Itlay-1931) - VG
de Giovanni, Maurizio – 3rd in series
Europa Editions – Nov. 2013

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