Readers unfamiliar with the great Italian writer Sciascia (1921-1989) have a rare pleasure in store in making his acquaintance with this volume of four novellas. A Sicilian who built his literary reputation with tales of crime that are rich in political significance, Sciascia is known for his lean but brooding prose and supple philosophical investigations: in his terrain, mystery centers not around crime but around justice. The works here, written in the two years before his death, are representative in terms of style as well as subject matter. The title piece examines a judge's refusal to impose the death penalty during a 1937 murder trial despite pressures from the Fascist authorities, who take pride in the fact that under their stern rule ``you can sleep with open doors.'' More memorable still is the darkly revelatory ``A Straightforward Tale,'' in which a police deputy suspects that what his superior rules a clear-cut suicide has a more sinister explanation--its conclusion seems inevitable only in its perfection. In a welcome bit of lagniappe, Farrellno id given supplies a graceful afterword to situate Sciascia within a critical and historical context. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/29/1992 Release date: 07/01/1992 Genre: Fiction
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