By My Hand

By My Hand

The Christmas of Commissario Ricciardi

Book - 2014
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As Naples prepares for its holiday celebrations, behind the facade of order and happiness imposed by the fascist regime lurks terrible poverty and blinding desperation. In a luxurious apartment on the Mergellina Beach the bodies of a fascist militia officer and his wife have been found. The woman has had her throat cut while the man has been stabbed over sixty times. Seemingly, the hands of two separate killers have been at work. A statuette of San Giuseppe, patron saint of workers, lies in pieces on the floor. At the scene of the crime, Ricciardi, who has the dubious gift of being able to see and hear the last seconds in the lives of those who have suffered a violent death, listens to the enigmatic last words of the couple. Accompanied by his faithful partner Brigadier Raffaele Maione, and once more troubled by two women who compete for his attentions, the Commissario will have to trace a wide and frenetic arc through the streets of Naples in order to uncover the truth.
Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Europa Editions, 2014.
Copyright Date: ©2014.
ISBN: 9781609452063
Characteristics: 350 pages ; 21 cm.
Additional Contributors: Shugaar, Antony - Translator


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Dec 14, 2016

An excellent, excellent novel. The descriptions of Naples at Christmas 1931 are worth recommending this novel alone. You feel you are there. And the crime story is full of twists and turns and I have to admit, I never saw the ending coming.

Mar 30, 2015

A gripping and engaging novel that illustrates why Italian Noir stands well above most in this genre.

This author, in particular, weaves a rich tapestry of characters to juxtapose the best and worst in human condition. The reader is led into the mind of each character in a Milan Kundera-like portrayal rather than just be through the eyes of the protagonist. Like the manger scenes the Neopolitans in the novel assiduously create for Christmas with each figure representing a story or a virtue, the novel itself is a carefully constructed scene of multiple dimensions via its characters.

It is set in Naples of Fascist Italy era with jealousy, misery, poverty, corruption and injustice co-existing with love, kindness and hope with moral and religious dilemmas. The result is a rich novel narrated in a flowery and yet simple linguistic style that is highly satisfying.

It happens to be a crime mystery set in social conditions that could have been conceived by Dickens or Dostoevsky. The portrayal of characters coping with life as they are dealt with is as powerful as the whodunnit mystery.

Noir is dark but not to be confused with horror or gore even when there is death. As this novel superbly demonstrates, it is like good Italian coffee - dark, complex and bracing but not bitter.

Highly recommended.


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