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Damned Season, The (De Luca Trilogy 2) [Paperback]

Carlo Lucarelli , Michael Reynolds
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Damned Season, The (De Luca Trilogy 2) + Via Delle Oche (Europa Editions) + Carte Blanche (De Luca Trilogy 1)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Europa Editions (17 Jun 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933372273
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933372273
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 14.2 x 20.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 101,209 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Synopsis

In 1945, traveling through Italy under an assumed name, Commissario De Luca is recognized by a member of the Partisan Police and is forced to assist in the investigation of a multiple homicide.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a question of legal responsibility 3 Sep 2008
By L. J. Roberts TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
THE DAMNED SEASON (Pol. Proc-Comm. De Luca-Italy-1945) - VG
Lucarelli, Carlo - 2nd in Trilogy
Europa Editions, 1991/2007, US Trade paperback - ISBN: 9781933372273

First Sentence: There was a land mine in the middle of the trail.

The Allies have come to Italy and Commissario De Luca is exhausted, hungry and traveling with false papers as his name is on the list of those wanted for working with the Social Republic. He is found by a young officer, Brigadier Leonardi, who wants to be good policeman solving crimes. He saw De Luca at a police-training course and offers to keep De Luca's identity a secret in exchange for showing him how to solve the murder of four people and a dog.

The translation from Italian to English does seem a bit awkward at times, but not so much as to every stop me, and while this is the second book of a trilogy, the mystery does stand alone.

The plot is a puzzle and I was fascinated watching De Luca pick up each small piece and put it in place. Having the book set in such a period of political uncertainly gave the story an element of suspense, but it is really a murder investigation. De Luca said it best "This is not a moral battle between the good guys and the bad buys, Brigadier," he said. "For us, homicide is simply a physical fact, a question of legal responsibility."

There is very little, basically no, character development which would usually annoy me. The book is totally plot driven, and I find the plot so interesting, I didn't mind. What little development there was of De Luca makes him a very human and interesting character.

As with the first book of the Trilogy, at the end the murder is solved but De Luca's future is unknown. I know I'll be reading Part III to find out.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I dreamed one man stood against a thousand 11 Jan 2011
By Leonard Fleisig TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
One man damned as a wrongheaded fool.
One year and another he walked the streets,
And a thousand shrugs and hoots
Met him in the shoulders and mouths he passed."

Carl Sandburg.

At the conclusion of Carlo Lucarelli's "Carte Blanche" in the spring of 1945, the fascist government of Italy had just collapsed and Commissario (Investigator) De Luca, like many officials of all stripes tarred with the brush of employment by the regime, was last seen fleeing for parts unknown. Volume II of Lucarelli's De Luca Trilogy, "The Damned Season", finds Commissario De Luca in hiding, using a false identity, wandering through the towns and villages of northern Italy just trying to get by and avoid arrest by former partisans now in control of large areas of Italy. As luck would have it, De Luca stumbles into a village in which a triple homicide has just been committed. As fate would have it the partisan police officer tasked with investigating the murders recognizes De Luca and makes De Luca an offer he can't refuse, help me solve the murder and I will preserve you new identity or get arrested and executed. De Luca accepts the offer not just because of his strong desire for self-preservation but his almost compulsive desire to actually do what a detective does best - solve crimes.

The plot is not complex and although interesting not the main reason why this book was worth reading. As drawn by Lucarelli, De Luca is a pretty compelling figure. As noted in a Preface to the book the character of De Luca was formed after Lucarelli interviewed a police officer whose career spanned most of the middle years of the 20th-century. (The preface actually does a great job in setting up the essential character of De Luca and should not be overlooked.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars wonderful writer, but story needs fleshing out 12 Aug 2012
By Rob Kitchin TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
I have pretty much the same issues with The Damned Season as I did with the first book in the series, Carte Blanche. I think Lucarelli is a wonderful writer - I love his style and the way the story is told, but the book is simply too thin for me and the story underdeveloped (the book is less than 100 pages long). What I wanted as a reader was the story fleshed out to give more insight into De Luca's flight and the back story of the area and some of the locals, particularly the various victims and the partisans. As it stands, Lucarelli has pared it back as about as far as it'll go to tell a relatively complex story. It almost feels like an extended synopsis rather than a dense novella. In addition, the story wasn't as compelling as the first book, particularly as the ending was so flimsily resolved. So at one level, I really admired the writing, but at another I was left a little frustrated. Like the first book, I'm left with the sense that what is an okay novella could have been a minor masterpiece if extended and deepened. That said, I'm compelled to read the final installment to the trilogy.
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I dreamed one man stood against a thousand 21 Dec 2007
By Leonard Fleisig - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
One man damned as a wrongheaded fool.
One year and another he walked the streets,
And a thousand shrugs and hoots
Met him in the shoulders and mouths he passed."

Carl Sandburg.

At the conclusion of Carlo Lucarelli's "Carte Blanche" in the spring of 1945, the fascist government of Italy had just collapsed and Commissario (Investigator) De Luca, like many officials of all stripes tarred with the brush of employment by the regime, was last seen fleeing for parts unknown. Volume II of Lucarelli's De Luca Trilogy, "The Damned Season", finds Commissario De Luca in hiding, using a false identity, wandering through the towns and villages of northern Italy just trying to get by and avoid arrest by former partisans now in control of large areas of Italy. As luck would have it, De Luca stumbles into a village in which a triple homicide has just been committed. As fate would have it the partisan police officer tasked with investigating the murders recognizes De Luca and makes De Luca an offer he can't refuse, help me solve the murder and I will preserve you new identity or get arrested and executed. De Luca accepts the offer not just because of his strong desire for self-preservation but his almost compulsive desire to actually do what a detective does best - solve crimes.

The plot is not complex and although interesting not the main reason why this book was worth reading. As drawn by Lucarelli, De Luca is a pretty compelling figure. As noted in a Preface to the book the character of De Luca was formed after Lucarelli interviewed a police officer whose career spanned most of the middle years of the 20th-century. (The preface actually does a great job in setting up the essential character of De Luca and should not be overlooked.) He is neither a hero nor an antihero. He seems to want to be nothing more than to be a detective yet at the same time he cannot quite convince even himself that his brief stint in Mussolini's secret police did not stain his career. He may assert that he'd never tortured anyone and left the secret police as soon as he could but he knows that in post-war Italy any connection to the former regime are enough to doom him. Still, he manages to put all this aside and proceeds to help untangle the web of political, cultural and other intrigues that led to a brutal series of murder. This is what he does best and so solving crimes is what he will do even if he risks exposure and death.

Lucarelli's ability to recreate an atmosphere of Italy on the edge of chaos and anarchy in the post-war period brings "Damned Season" to life. I got a real sense of time and place while reading "Damned Season" just as I did in reading "Carte Blanche". Apart from De Luca, Lucarelli does not invest a lot of time in presenting us with a full-blown character analysis of the key parties to the crime and its aftermath. We also don't get a lot of the internal life of De Luca but De Luca's actions tend to speak for themselves and over the course of this second volume you begin to get a feel for his personality without having had Lucarelli spell it out for me. On the downside, Lucarelli doesn't invest a lot of time on his secondary characters so there is something of a disconnect between our perception of De Luca based on a pretty good sense of the character and the remaining characters who do come across sometimes as more of stick-figures rather than flesh and blood characters. However, Lucarelli's fast-paced sense of action and the very convincing portrait he draws of post-war life in northern Italy more than makes up for these deficiencies.

"The Damned Season" was a good sequel to "Carte Blanche". The third and final volume (Via delle Oche) is, apparently, due out soon. I've read and enjoyed Volumes One and Two and look forward to the conclusion. L. Fleisig
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Murder in Italy's postwar twilight zone 17 Nov 2008
By Blue in Washington - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"The Damned Season" is Carlo Lucarelli's second short mystery novel in the Commissario de Luca series. It has been well reviewed by Amazon readers already, but I will add my admiration for Lucarelli's taut writing style and ability to deliver an engaging narrative from page one. This is a masterful writer at work and well worth the reader's time.
Don't overlook the other two titles in the series -- "Carte Blanche" and "Via delle Oche."
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great, short read 16 Nov 2008
By A. F. Martel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you want uplifting stories with a happy ending , go elsewhere.
But if you want an engrossing story that will show you a very different view of Italy than Salvo Montalbano, read this.
This is Italy at the bitter end of World War II. And if the book is disjointed, confused and cynical, so was that period in Italy. The "good guys" mostly win at the end. Trouble is figuring out if they are "good".
3.0 out of 5 stars A Notable Improvement Over Carte Blanche 11 Oct 2011
By Dash Manchette - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Carlo Lucarelli started his De Luca trilogy off with a whimper. CARTE BLANCHE was a meandering mess, with far too many characters thrown into too small of a plot. The books have been of interest primarily because of their setting, the fascist and post-fascist period of Italy in the 1940s. But in the first book, politics were so central that one not already familiar with specifics of that time would have a hard go at it. I mentioned in my review that CARTE BLANCHE has the lowest rating on amazon and so I was not ready to give up on the books then.

Good thing I did not, because this second book in the trilogy, THE DAMNED SEASON, is a notable improvement. De Luca is back, this time on the lam as old fascists are being hunted down and killed for, well, for being fascists. De Luca is not political, though. He was, and is, just a cop and he answered to whatever power was in charge that gave the orders. A cop is a cop.

In this second book, the crime is more straight-forward, which works much better for a mere 100 pages or so. Politics play a role, but do not overwhelm and subsume the story. De Luca is picked up by a country cop investigating the murder of an entire family. The townsfolk are in fear of one nasty local thug, and the only girl in sight is so bitter, angry and hostile that one might prefer the firing squad. But a cop is a cop and there is a mass murder to solve.

Clues come together, and a good thing for De Luca. The local constable knows who De Luca is and, if results are not forthcoming from solving the murder, the local can get brownie points for turning De Luca in and letting the local communists take care of him. The interplay between the characters here is much better than in CARTE BLANCHE, no doubt because there just are not as many of them.

I read THE DAMNED SEASON with trepidation. After reading it though, I look forward to the third and final book, VIA DELLE OCHO, with anticipation.
5.0 out of 5 stars The "Coming Asunder" of The Commissario 26 Jan 2010
By fred vallongo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The first volume in Carlo Lucarelli's saga of Commissario De Luca, "Carte Blanche," began with an explosion. This, "The Damned Season," the second installment begins with De Luca contemplating an exposed land mine, as he flees the vengeful victors in Northern Italy.

His reverie is interrupted by a local policeman who recognizes him, confiscates his forged papers, but offers to help De Luca in exchange for his assistance in solving a particularly horrendous crime: the murder of four people and their dog.

Much like the fascist authorities in "Carte Blanche," the cop, Brigadier Leonardi, is eager to solve the crime. Where they sought to force De Luca to focus on a particular suspect, Leonardi tries to divert him from focusing on a rather obvious suspect.

The obvious suspect is a hero (if a particularly brutal one) and leader of the local partisan resistance. Popular sentiment regards this man, named Carnera, as uncorruptible. After De Luca is seduced by Carnera's mistress, Carnera, unaware of the Commissario;s true identity, promises De Luca that he will kill him.

The stage is thus set, an apolitical cop who served the fascist state, in pursuit of a brutal, homicidal communist hero, who may(or may not) have wiped out the four murder victims for motives that aren't entirely clear.

What was the cost of vengeance taking, by all sides, during and after the war, on the social order? If the crime is solved will Leonardi keep his promise? If not, what will become of Commissario De Luca?

All of these questions--or almost all of them--are answered in this stylish novella.
The answers; however, may bring scant comfort to De Luca, or the reader. The reader, at least, will be eager for more.
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