Thursday, October 25, 2012

Review of A Death in Tuscany by Michele Giuttari (Abacus, 2008, Italian 2005)

A young girl has been found by the side of the road, having apparently taken an overdose of heroin.  Given that no-one is searching for her, it is assumed that she is an illegal immigrant and junkie, a case that can be shelved and forgotten.  Chief Superintendent Michele Ferrara, head of the Florence Squadra Mobile, however, has other ideas.  Suspicious of the fact that a girl so young appears to be an addict he starts to investigate.  The post-mortem reveals that she’d had sex before dying and that she hadn’t been a junkie; it looks like someone pumped her full of drugs, raped her, and left her to die.  Just as the case starts to gain momentum he is warned to proceed carefully, then becomes sidetracked when his best friend disappears along with a woman after her husband is found dead in her home. Determined to help his friend, the prime suspect in the husband’s murder, he clashes with the local Carabinieri who put in an official complaint.  Handing the case of the young girl over to a colleague, Ferrara takes a holiday to conduct his own investigation into his friend’s disappearance. 

A Death in Tuscany is a competent police procedural set in Florence and its surrounds.  It’s author used to be head of the Florence police and he knows his procedural details, giving a good insight into how the Italian system works with its divisions between state police, carabinieri and prosecutor’s office.  Ferrara is a political astute cop, dedicated to the job, with a healthy disregard for his superiors and liked by his colleagues, and a happy home life.   The story is well paced and the characterisation is nicely observed, particularly some of Ferrara’s colleagues.  Although the story draws the reader into the investigation and Tuscany region, there are a number of elements that seem a little fanciful, especially the linking of the two main threads, the binding of various players and conspiracy elements that work to undermine its credibility somewhat.  Overall, a solid read that deals with some difficult issues. 


Rick Robinson said...

I thought this one was quite good. I believe there is a next novel, isn't there?

Rob Kitchin said...

It was okay. A solid enough read. There is one book before - A Florentine Death - and two books afterwards - A Death of a Mafia Don; A Death in Calabria.