Flowers over the Inferno

Ilaria Tuti, trans. from the Italian by Ekin Oklap. Soho Crime, $25.95 (360p) ISBN 978-1-64129-068-5

Set in Northern Italy, Tuti’s exhilarating debut and series launch introduces Supt. Teresa Battaglia, a tough, solitary woman in her 60s who has earned her place as the head of an all-male homicide team and is keeping her battle with declining health secret from her colleagues. When a middle-aged man’s naked body with its eyes gouged out is found in the densely wooded Dolomite Mountains near the Austrian border, Teresa takes charge of the investigation. An effigy made out of the victim’s bloodied clothing close to the body prompts Teresa to observe, “The effigy is a representation of the killer. He stood here contemplating his work, and wanted us to know...” Other victims follow who are left alive but mutilated. The kidnapping of a baby raises the stakes. Interspersed with the present-day action are horrific chapters set in an Austrian orphanage in 1978 that shed light on the killer’s psychology. Teresa, who must deal with casual and constant sexism in her position of authority, is an unforgettable character readers will want to see a lot more of. (Apr.)
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