Blood Curse

Maurizio de Giovanni

The second book in the Commissario Ricciardi series.

 

Ricciardi sees and hears the final seconds in the lives of victims of violent deaths. It is both a gift and a curse. It has helped him become one of the most acute and successful homicide detectives in Naples police force. But it has taken an emotional toll on him.

Naples, 1931, in a dingy apartment in a poor neighbourhood an elderly woman moonlighting as a fortuneteller and moneylender has been viciously beaten to death. Then Ricciardi and his deputy Maione arrive at the scene and start asking questions no one wants to answer.

 These two carry on a silent romance by staring at each other through their windows at night. There are very few authors who can successfully introduce the supernatural into crime fiction, Asa Larsson springs to mind, and De Giovanni joins that exclusive group, simply because he does not overdo it or dwell on it too much.

Blood Curse is a tangled story of jealousy, love, money, tragedy and lust with well drawn characters in an unusual historical setting. It is beautifully written and full of a sort of earthy wisdom.

In Fascist Italy it is natural that Ricciardi’s boss Angelo Garzo will be a political animal and the author sums him up in a few words. Of course Ricciardi is not a fascist but a good man in a difficult environment.

This is one of the best books I have read this year. The reader is given social commentary about the divisions between the wealthy and the deprived in Naples, details about the lives of the detectives, all blended in with a dreadful crime, a few red herrings and some surprises. But there is also importantly some humour that gives a very Italian feel to the story.

Review by Norman Price, CRIME SCRAPS REVIEW

About Maurizio de Giovanni:

Maurizio de Giovanni (b. 1958, Naples) is best known for his prize-winning series set in 1930s Naples featuring Commissario Ricciardi, a loner with the paranormal ability to see and hear the murdered dead. A banker by profession, de Giovanni also writes short stories and books about historic matches of the Neapolitan soccer team Napoli.

 

 

We are back in Naples in 1931.

An elderly woman Carmela Calise has been brutally beaten to death and because she was both a fortune teller and moneylender there are several suspects. They range from a wealthy woman who relies on Calise to tell her the future, to a struggling pizzeria owner with a promissory note due in a few days. Ricciardi and Brigadier Maione investigate this crime while Maione also comforts Filomena Russo the most beautiful woman in Naples, whose face has been disfigured by a knife. Both detectives have personal problems Maione and his wife,Lucia, have suffered a great tragedy that has has driven them apart, and Ricciardi is still unable to approach the graceful Enrica.