Note: this review is only about "The Knight and Death".
Sciascia was a Sicilian writer relatively recently deceased (1989), who wrote several important pieces, many of them about the Mafia, and in general he succeeded in what is known as the "Noire", or black, novel. Although this is not one of his major works, it is a very good novella, which shows all the characteristics that would make him famous.
The "Vice" (second in command of the police) of a certain Italian city is already dying of cancer, and for that reason he decides not to quit smoking. However, he still shows up for work, and now he has to resolve a murder. A lawyer named Sandoz has been shot, and there are two leads: one is a mysterious revolutionary sect called "89" (as in the year of the French Revolution, 1789); the other is the chairman of an almighty business conglomerate. The Vice's suspects are more inclined towards the man than the group, since the guy had dined with Sandoz the night of the crime, besides several people, in particular two women who were witnesses to an exchange of written threats between the two men, during the dinner. The Chairman's note was found inside Sandoz's jacket; the other is missing. So the Vice decides to interrogate both women, with surprising results. Meanwhile, the "89" thing transforms into a grotesque farce.
Right in front of his desk, the Vice has a reproduction of Albrecht Durer's enigmatic engraving "The Knight, Death, and the Devil", which constantly reminds him of his imminent death. More than a crime story, it is the tale of a dying man, who with wit and at the same time disinterest faces a dirty world fading before his very eyes. The development is paused, centered above all on the Vice's thoughts and in his errands around town. One mark of a good novel who happens to deal with crime and police, is that the vehicle is used to explore human life and death, the psyche of both criminals and law enforcers, and so transcend mere genre fiction into the realm of good literature. This short novel points in the right direction.