Monday, January 27, 2014
Review of I Will Have Vengeance by Maurizio De Giovanni (Hersilia Press, 2012, translated by Anne Milano Appel)
I Will Have Vengeance is a locked room mystery set in an opera house. The story has a well realised sense of place, especially with respect to the San Carlo Theatre, and nice historical contextualisation, placing the reader in Naples in 1931 and its warren of streets, sights and sounds. The plot is well constructed and has a couple of decent red herrings and blind alleys. The story seemed to wobble a bit towards the end, but De Giovanni finds a plausible and fitting resolution. The real strength of the book, however, is the characterisation. There is a well penned set of supporting actors, but star of the book is undoubtedly the troubled and mournful Commissario Ricciardi, who’s haunted by the ghosts of the dead that surround him and conducts a love affair which involves no contact or words. Whilst the story is generally well told, I did on occasion find myself skipping back pages or re-reading sentences to decipher meaning, which was a slight distraction. Overall, an interesting and engaging historical mystery and I look forward to catching up with Commissario Ricciardi in the future.