DEATH IN THE TUS­CAN HILLS

Crime Scene - - POST MORTEM - By An­dre Paine BY MARCO VICHI

With this, his fifth out­ing, In­spec­tor Bordelli is shap­ing up to be a de­tec­tive whose investigations are, like the Mon­tal­bano nov­els by An­drea Camil­leri, re­quired read­ing for fans of Ital­ian crime fic­tion.

How­ever, Death In The Tus­can Hills finds Bordelli no longer a serv­ing po­lice officer. In the wake of a trou­bling case that in­volved the sav­age mur­der of a child, a break-up with the girl of his dreams and the cat­a­strophic 1966 flood­ing of Florence, the age­ing de­tec­tive has cho­sen to re­tire and move to the coun­try­side, to tend his veg­etable patch.

That is hardly a promis­ing set-up for a crime novel but don’t un­der­es­ti­mate Vichi’s abil­ity to ma­noeu­vre this for­mer anti-fas­cist Par­ti­san into in­trigu­ing and dan­ger­ous sce­nar­ios. When Bordelli agrees to re-ex­am­ine the sup­posed sui­cide of a young aris­to­crat in a neig­bour­ing cas­tle, 14 years ear­lier, it’s ob­vi­ous that he hasn’t lost his nat­u­ral in­stinct for work­ing cases and right­ing wrongs.

The sup­posed sui­cide turns out to be a clas­sic locked-room mys­tery, though Vichi clev­erly twists this pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tion into an op­por­tu­nity for Bordelli to pur­sue re­venge against a killer who evaded jus­tice.

Death In The Tus­can Hills is by far the dark­est book in this se­ries – those cosy-look­ing cov­ers are a lit­tle mis­lead­ing – but the crime el­e­ment is con­trasted with lin­ger­ing de­scrip­tions of Ital­ian cui­sine which of­fer some wel­come re­lief from the dead bod­ies.

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