cover image Betrayal


Giorgio Scerbanenco, trans. from the Italian by Howard Curtis. Hersilia (Dufour, dist.), $14.95 trade paper (232p) ISBN 978-0-9574806-0-5

First published in 1966, this excellent crime novel from Scerbanenco (A Private Venus) opens with an arresting phrase: “It isn’t easy to kill two people simultaneously.” In the first chapter, an unnamed American woman sends a car with her victims inside plunging into a Milan canal. Her meticulous planning extends well beyond the deed, and by chapter’s end she’s escaped to Phoenix, Ariz. Meanwhile, Dr. Duca Lamberti receives the offer of a large sum of money and a chance to be restored to the medical register if he performs a simple procedure. A bride-to-be, who needs to pass as a virgin to avoid her fiancé’s wrath, requires surgery to her hymen. While the operation proceeds smoothly, the aftermath involves Lamberti in an official investigation into six deaths, all linked to an unsavory attorney. Scerbanenco (1911–1969), for whom the award for the best Italian crime novel is named, smartly and logically weaves all the various plot threads together. (Dec.)