Valerio Varesi

MacLehose Press 18.99 Hdbk

Released: 2nd Spetember 2010

Reviewer: Keith Miles


Keith Miles is probably best recognised by readers under the pen name of Edward Marston. He writes several well-received historical mysteries spanning the 11th century through to the 19th century. His website is www.edwardmarston.com

Valerio Varesi is an interesting addition to the growing list of Italian writers now in English translation. River of Shadows is set in the rain-lashed Po valley and features Commissario Soneri, a man who enjoys investigating menus in a good restaurant as much he enjoys solving crimes. A huge barge is cut adrift in the flooded river. When it runs aground, there is no sign of its ancient owner, Anteo Tonna. In a separate incident, Decimo Tonna, brother of the barge owner, is found dead at a hospital after an apparent suicide bid.

Having established that Anteo was, in fact, murdered, Soneri goes in search of the missing older brother. His research takes him sixty years into the past, to a time when there was bitter strife between the Fascists and Partisans. A loner by nature, he is helped along the way by his lawyer girlfriend, Angela, who has a passion for making love in unusual places. Most of the others engaged in law enforcement only make contact with Soneri via his mobile phone whose ring tone is the triumphal march from Aida.

This is a quirky, well-paced, evocative tale in which the River Po plays a vital role, sweeping all before it during the flood then slowly receding to reveal its dark secrets. Very Italian and very welcome.






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