May 12, 2014

Book Review: Death in Sardinia by Marco Vichi

I've read a ton of fiction in the last few years set just post-WWI, or in the 1930s. But I realized, while reading Death in Sardinia, that I'd read very little fiction set just post-WWII. And what I had read was set primarily in England. Somehow I never even thought about how much worse the Italian experience must've been post-war, because they not only had grievous losses (like the rest of Europe); but they had to deal with the memory of the extraordinary betrayals occasioned by the civil war between Fascist and monarchical factions that erupted in the middle of WWII.

All that is to say, I found Death in Sardinia fascinating. It features Inspector Bordelli, who, 20 years later, is still plagued by daydreams of sorts, where he relives tragic moments, often involving the deaths of comrades.

It's December 1965, and he's realizing that the war, which so vividly haunts him, is just a distant memory to the youth of today. He's also acknowledging that, at 55, he's growing old, and thus tries to quit smoking.

His anti-smoking plans are interrupted by the stress of a new case: a man found dead, a pair of scissors stuck into the back of his neck. He was a notorious loan shark, and countless residents of Florence had reason to want him dead. Bordelli is supposed to be finding Badalamenti's killer, but he finds himself sympathizing with the person who eliminated such a nasty man.

Meanwhile, Bordelli's usual partner, Piras, is recuperating in Sardinia, after being shot in the line of duty. Piras's holiday convalescence takes an interesting twist, however, when he begins to suspect that an apparent suicide in the village wasn't a suicide at all. Piras limps his way around the island in search of answers, much to the disapproval of his mother.

Death in Sardinia, the third of Vichi's Inspector Bordelli novels to be published in the United States, mixes modern Italian history, two interesting murders and ponderings on the massive cultural shift that took place in the 1960s, filtering the tumultuous decade through Bordelli and his somewhat antiquated views on loyalty, patriotism and family. Fans of Andrea Camilleri, Donna Leon or Conor Fitzgerald are sure to enjoy Death in Sardinia.

I think I might actually go back and re-read the first two books in the Inspector Bordelli series - because I want to find out more about Piras and Bordelli's normal working relationship; since they only talked via telephone in this one.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Should I recommend this to my grandma? Maybe. But your grandpa will probably like it better.

Have you read any good post-war books lately?

I originally wrote a large part of this review for Shelf Awareness. And it contains some of my affiliate links.