Death in Florence: Book Four (Inspector Bordelli) Paperback – 7 Nov 2013
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Brilliantly evoking a society in crisis, Marco Vichi has given us a crime novel that is moving and memorable. (Daily Mail on DEATH IN FLORENCE)
A rich, detailed, traditional detective story . . . The descriptions of Florence are delicious, dripping with atmosphere (Saga magazine on DEATH IN FLORENCE)
A typically intriguing and thought-provoking Vichi crime novel and will be appreciated by both new readers and established fans alike. (Good Book Guide on DEATH IN FLORENCE)
'A real find for anyone who likes their crime novels atmospheric, discursive, humorous and thought-provoking.' (Guardian)
Satisfyingly realistic police procedural . . . DEATH IN FLORENCE confirms Vichi's place in the vanguard of the new wave of Italian crime writers. (Irish Times)
'Vichi's crime novels are enjoyable, mystifying and well worth reading.' (Literary Review)
'[Italian] writers are justifiably growing in popularity here: Marco Vichi deserves to be among them . . . [Bordelli] is stubborn, womanless, cynical and impatient, but strangely appealing.' (Marcel Berlins, The Times)
'Over the course of his police procedurals, Vichi shows us ever more secret and dark sides to an otherwise sunny and open city. But his happiest creation, in my opinion, remains the character of Inspector Bordelli, a disillusioned anti-hero who is difficult to forget.' (Andrea Camilleri)
'Vichi's stellar first in a new mystery series introduces endearingly melancholic Inspector Bordelli . . . [and] delivers a plausible solution worthy of a golden age crime novel. Readers will look forward to seeing more of this flawed hero.' (Publishers Weekly, starred review for DEATH IN AUGUST)
'Once again [Vichi's] depiction of Italian history and culture is both fascinating and complex . . . a sharply observed slice of crime fiction with real depth.' (www.crimetime.co.uk)
The multiple prize-winning fourth book in the Inspector Bordelli crime series, translated from the Italian.See all Product description
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All these are even more to the fore in this book which begins with another failed relationship and a beautifully constructed mushroom-hunting excursion in the wooded hills above Florence with his not quite ex-con friend, Botta [who justifies his nefarious activities by saying ‘I’m implementing a policy of redistribution of wealth while I’m waiting for more honest laws’]. The latter is, however, just short-term relief from Bordelli’s current case, that of a thirteen year old boy barrister’s son, Giacomo Pellissari, who disappeared on the way home from school after his father was delayed by torrential rain and an accident on his way to collect him.
The Inspector and his assistant, Piras, doubt that they will find the boy alive and soon a hunter finds a body not far from where the mushroom hunt took place. There is little evidence and what there is is washed away through the flooding of the river Arno. In addition to the police investigation that takes a time to get going, the flooding forms the centerpiece of this book, the fourth in Marco Vichi’s series, expertly translated by Stephen Sartarelli who also provides comprehensive explanatory notes.
However, Vichi’s description of the devastation and its aftermath never quite worked for me. Perhaps if I knew the city better I would have been able to work out where Bordelli walked and drove, but it really did not come to life as it would for a native Florentine or an experienced visitor. In addition, the flooding provided Bordelli with an opportunity to meet a young shop assistant whom he has fallen for. This also failed to ring true and, since these two elements occupy most of the book, I was left less satisfied than after the first three novels.
On the other hand, Bordelli’s reminiscences of his time fighting the Nazis and Fascists is better integrated into the narrative and the focus on food, whilst still a strong feature, is not as dominating – partly because, in the aftermath of the flooding, fewer restaurants are open.
Paradoxically, this book, more than the others in the series, made me realise just what an impact Vichi’s writing about the war, its aftermath and the flooding in Florence must have had when published in its original Italian. The cynical Inspector was, however, spot on in saying that individual and organisational corruption will follow the flooding since ‘Catastrophes had always been good for business. Nothing new there’.
‘Florence, October 1966. The rain is never-ending. When a young boy goes missing, the police fear the worst, and Inspector Bordelli begins an increasingly desperate investigation’. This blurb on the back cover makes the topic of this novel very clear and the reviewer, Anne I Statham, who gave this book a single* rating clearly should not have read it. It seems harsh to blame the author for addressing criminality that was evident in the 1960s although less reported than today. Having said that, Vichi is unflinching in his description of paedophilic activities, especially in an admission recording over some 12 harrowing pages.
Once again, Bordelli’s attitude to punishment is very flexible allowing some offenders to go free whilst bearing down relentlessly on others who use their political, religious or social standing to force weaker individuals to submit. For the Inspector, rules are guidelines to be weighed against a wider context of ethics and morality. However, Bordelli’s judgement goes seriously awry on this occasion, with the result that Vichi leaves his protagonist once again considering his future.
Florence in 1966 is described through its television programmes and advertisements, a Vichi speciality, its politicians, cars, landmarks and its stinking mud, one wit has scrawled a notice ‘Rheumatism sufferers, try San Niccolò mud. Reasonable prices’. Even in this darkest of Bordelli’s cases, the author has not forgotten his humour. That Botto, an expert burglar and chef, is also capable of successfully painting a Renato Guttuso forgery is something that the author’s dashing style makes the reader fully believe.
Bordelli appears to be smoking rather less and Piras has done a great job in preventing him from puffing away in the police car. However, when he lights up several cigarettes whilst awaiting the return of one of the possible suspects to his luxurious home it is rather surprising that the smell of the smoke did not alert the returnee to Bordelli’s presence.
Author Marco Vichi was born in Florence in 1957. He is the author of twelve novels and two collections of short stories and "Death in Florence" won the Scerbanenco, Rieti, Camaiore and Azzeccagarbugli prizes in Italy. If you have read the earlier books and enjoyed them, then I can safely say that you will enjoy this. If you haven't read any, it is probably best to begin with the first in the series, "Death in August". These are not fast moving mysteries and the books are as much about Bordelli's life and thoughts as the investigation. However, I certainly hope there are more books in the series for us to enjoy and think the novels have a wonderful sense of place and time.
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