Blood Curse: The Springtime of Commissario Ricciardi

Maurizio De Giovanni, Author, Antony Shugaar, Translator
Maurizio De Giovanni. Europa/World Noir, $17 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-1-60945-113-4
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Aging tarot card reader Carmela Calise is bludgeoned to death in de Giovanni's (I Will Have Vengeance) very Italian second novel featuring Commissario Ricciardi, a man who can see the dead's final moments and hear their "last, obsessively repeated thought." A pensive and lonely figure, Ricciardi and his uncanny hunches generally earn his colleagues' mistrust, save for his steadfast champion Maione. This time around Maione has his own concerns, distracted by his own case involving gorgeous widow Filomena disfigurment. Set in Naples in 1931, the story delights in dichotomies: living and departed both crowd the streets, spring arrives in force after a long winter, primal needs determine the lives of the wealthy and working classes alike. These mysterious Neapolitan circles feature many subplots and suspects. Impoverished Filomena attracts unwanted propositions and hostilities from her neighbors, where the elevated social status of Emma Serra di Arpaja allows her to view beauty as her freedom from a cold marriage. As Carmela's second profession as a loan shark is uncovered, the narrative flicks between perspectives and disembodied thoughts to offer flashes of characters and possible suspects. Despite a few melodramatic missteps, the promise that each life will intersect keeps Ricciardi and Maione's investigation lively. (May)
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