DEATH IN THE TUSCAN HILLS
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.