By My Hand: The Christmas of Commissario Ricciardi

Maurizio de Giovanni, trans. from the Italian by Antony Shugaar. Europa/World Noir, $17 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-60945-206-3
The refreshing lack of cynicism of de Giovanni's two lead detectives, Brigadier Raffaele Maione and Commissario Luigi Alfredo Ricciardi, distinguishes the quietly enjoyable fifth Commissario Ricciardi mystery set in 1930s Naples (after Day of the Dead). When a fascist militia officer, Capt. Emanuele Garofalo, and his wife, Costanza, are murdered in their apartment a few days before Christmas, Ricciardi and Maione go searching for a cold-blooded killer. Instead, they find three sympathetic suspects: Antonio Lumunno, whose wife committed suicide after Emanuele falsely accused him of corruption, and Aristide and Angelina Boccia, whom Emanuele extorted while their child died from lack of funds to pay a doctor. The detectives, meanwhile, face their own ethical conundrums. Raffaele discovers the identity of his son's murderer, but lacks the evidence to bring the man to justice, while Ricciardi tries to avoid succumbing to the charms of the Livia Lucani, a woman he desires but does not love. The engaging characters and melancholy atmosphere more than make up for the conventional plot and often choppy, awkward prose. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/11/2014
Release date: 08/01/2014
Genre: Fiction
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