6 December 2016

Review: DEATH IN AUGUST, Marco Vichi

  • first published in Italian 2002
  • translated into English 2011 by Stephen Sartarelli
  • published by Hodder & Stoughton
  • ISBN 978-1-444-71221-6
  • 207 pages
  • source: my local library
  • #1 in the Inspector Bordelli series
Synopsis  (Italian Mysteries)

Florence, summer 1963.

Inspector Bordelli is one of the few policemen left in the deserted city. He spends his days on routine work, and his nights tormented by the heat and mosquitoes.

Suddenly one night, a telephone call gives him a new sense of purpose: the suspected death of a wealthy Signora. Bordelli rushes to her hilltop villa, and picks the locks. The old woman is lying on her bed - apparently killed by an asthma attack, though her medicine has been left untouched.

With the help of his young protégé, the victim's eccentric brother, and a semi-retired petty thief, the inspector begins a murder investigation. Each suspect has a solid alibi, but there is something that doesn't quite add up . .

My Take

Unencumbered by a wife and family, Inspector Bordelli likes to spend the August holiday season at work, even if it does mean incredible heat, and mosquitoes.

This is almost a Golden Age style mystery: there is no blood and gore, just a dead body and a mystery about how she died.  As Inspector Bordelli tracks down the beneficiaries of the dead woman's will, he and his young assistant settle on the murderer, but the problem is to prove it. He revisits the scene of the death frequently and makes a surprise discovery, and eventually gathers some concrete evidence.

This is to be the first book in the series and the author takes a lot of care in creating the Inspector's persona: he is 53 years old, fought the Nazis in World War Two, and already sees himself as an old man. He has a lot of friends among criminals and ex-soldiers. There is a lovely scene at a dinner party where a number of them tell stories from the war.

I was impressed by the careful plotting and the eventual resolution of the mystery.

My rating: 4.3

About the author
Marco Vichi was born in Florence in 1957. The author of eleven novels and two collections of short stories, he has also written screenplays, music lyrics and for radio, and collaborated on projects for humanitarian causes. His novel Death in Florence won the Scerbanenco, Rieti and Camaiore prizes.

Inspector Bordelli
1. Death in August (2011)
2. Death and the Olive Grove (2012)
3. Death in Sardinia (2012)
4. Death in Florence (2013)
5. Death in the Tuscan Hills (2016)


Anonymous said...

Oh, Stephen Sartarelli as translator! That's a plus to me right from the start, Kerrie. Glad you enjoyed this.

Peggy Ann said...

Thanks for bringing this series to my attention!


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