Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Blood Curse by Maurizio De Govanni

First Sentence:  Though no one could possibly know it, the last rains of winter had fallen that afternoon.

Responding to a scream head on his way to work, Brigadier Raffaele Maione finds a beautiful woman whose face has been deeply slashed.  It is a case that takes on a very personal interest for him.  Called out on another case, Maione and Riccardi find an old woman who has been brutally beaten to death.  Her final words?  “God Almighty’s not a shopkeeper who pays His debts on Saturday.”   
Although it doesn’t impact my rating, I do not recommend the Kindle version of this book, as the formatting makes reading the story quite confusing.  Eventually, one gets the hang of it, but it’s not easy.  Even so, this is a somewhat challenging book to get into as the beginning is vignettes of numerous characters without our really being told who they are, or how they fit together.           
In the beginning, we are given an interesting lesson on status and title, followed by a captivating introduction to Riccardi.  He is such an unusual and intriguing character.  Ricciardi, is not well liked by his fellow officers or his superior, but he solves his crimes, and more quickly than others.  Ricciardi sees the dead; not those who died peacefully, but those who died suddenly from accident, suicide or murder.  Not only did he see them, he heard them in the last few moments of their lives; thus, referring to them as The Deed.  Maione, his second, is very loyal to him, ever since Ricciardi delivered to Maione a final message from his dead son.
Ricciardi accepts his situation and has even found the one way of making it into a positive.  One cannot help but feel for him and yet be very glad he has Maione by his side.  Yet, for all his solemnity, Riccardi does have a sense of humor. 
One of de Giovanni’s greatest strengths is his descriptions.  Whether it be people, settings or emotions, they are powerfully evocative and visual… “It was the spring:  it danced on tiptoe; it pirouetted daintily, still young, full of joy, not yet aware of what it would bring, but eager to mix things up a bit.  Without any ulterior motives; just for the fun of shuffling the cards.”
The plot is a study of relationships and insecurities.  It is a lesson in human weakness, with observations that cause one to stop and consider.
Blood Curse” is, in the end, a true mystery.  It is refreshing to have a detective who does make assumptions, but relies of evidence and motives to identify the killer.  This is a fascinating book and a series I highly recommend for those with a taste for the unusual.  

BLOOD CURSE (Pol Proc-Comm. Ricciardi/Brig. Maioni-Naples-1931) – VG+
De Giovanni, Mauriizio (Translated by Antony Shugarr) – 2nd in series
Europa Editions, 2013

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