River of Shadows: A Commissario Soneri Mystery by Valerio Varesi
|River of Shadows: A Commissario Soneri Mystery by Valerio Varesi|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: An evocative story about old rivalries still being fought over half a century later in the River Po region of northern Italy. It's the first in a series which will undoubtedly get better.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 272||Date: September 2010|
|Publisher: MacLehose Press|
Rain was falling heavily in the River Po catchment area in northern Italy and the old hands knew that it would burst its banks and there would be flooding. But even they are surprised when they see Tonna's barge setting out downstream. He knows the river well, but his course out of the mooring was erratic and when the barge was eventually found Tonna was nowhere to be seen; the barge was deserted. Was it coincidence or something more sinister when Tonna's brother appeared to commit suicide on the day of his brother's disappearance: Commisario Soneri is convinced that there is more to this than meets the eye.
You'd best read this book sitting in the sun, or in front of the fire. If you don't you will feel damp and cold as Varesi effortlessly evokes the Po valley at its worst, along with the people who try and make a living from it. Old enmities from the Second World War live on with the intervening years representing little more than an armed truce. In fact the war seems eerily present throughout the book. The mists from the Po produce their own ghosts.
Soneri himself was something of an enigma to me. He seemed old, with his love of opera and good food and wine yet drove a youthful sports car. He seemed reserved and thoughtful, but accommodated his girlfriend's addiction to having sex in unconventional places. He is though (courtesy of Varesi) well versed in the resentments which sprang from the fighting between the Fascists and the Partisans in the closing years of the war. It might be fifty years on but the grievances are still real and even those who might be thought to be on the side of right have problems.
I was glad that I was a veteran of the Aurelio Zen and Commissario Guido Brunetti investigations or I might have struggled to understand the complexities of the Italian law enforcement structure, which I didn't think were particularly well explained for a non-Italian readership. It is, however, the first book in a series (which is currently one of Italy's most popular television series) and I'm looking forward to reading about Soneri's future investigations. I wasn't entirely convinced by the first book in the Inspector Salvo Montalbano series, but now I can't wait for the next book in the series to be published. You might also enjoy The Salati Case by Tobias Jones.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
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You can read more book reviews or buy River of Shadows: A Commissario Soneri Mystery by Valerio Varesi at Amazon.com.
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