Posted: November 16, 2008 in Uncategorized

I have just finished reading the 156 page novel Via Delle Oche by Carlo Lucarelli.

It is the third in the De Luca trilogy which is set in turbulent Italy during the end of the Second World War and the post war period. 

I reviewed Carte Blanche the first in the trilogy here
The second The Damned Season I reviewed here.

It is 1948. Italy’s fate is soon to be decided in bitterly contested national elections. A man has been found dead in villa delle Oche, at the centre of Bologna’s notorious red light district it is regarded at first as a suicide. 

The man, Ricciotti  Ermes, hanging from the rafters does have a noose around his neck but when the overturned stool is righted his feet don’t reach the seat. Luckily Commissario De Luca is there to spot the anomaly.

Pugliase’s thin lips curled into an incredulous smile. He ran to the door, stopping for a second at the door way to turn toward De Luca.
‘Christ, Commissario,’ he said. ‘I sure am glad you’re back!’ 

De Luca proceeds to investigate the case and he has to tiptoe through a difficult situation as his superiors of both political persuasions are intent on leaving the case as a suicide. 
This is a fine historical crime novel with snappy dialogue and a real feel for the period. Carlo Lucarelli introduces each chapter with newspaper headlines of the day, a technique that adds to the atmosphere and the tension as the day of the election approaches.




There is a lot packed into a few pages in this novel with so many different threads including the criminal investigation, the political infighting between Christian Democrats and Communists, De Luca’s relations with his superiors, and also with the attractive brothel owner La Tripolina. But the dominating theme is the internal turmoil of De Luca torn between his duty and political and personal pressures. He is almost a metaphor for Italy itself tearing apart in that tumultuous election. 

‘I don’t give a damn if they use me! I’m a policeman, Pugliese, it’s my job and I’ll take sides with anyone who lets me do my job.’…………

‘Is that why,’ hissed Pugliese, coolly, ‘you sided with the fascists?….’ 
  1. maxine says:

    >I am definitely going to have to read these, Norman, on the basis of your three excellent reviews. And the books are short, so that’s a plus!

  2. >Thanks Maxine. Short books do have the advantage that by the time you decide they are not your cup of tea you have nearly finished them. I am going to have to read Asa Larsson after your tempting latest review. There is not enough time in the day even for a retiree to read and deal with everything I want to do. One thing I am going to do in future is do a Declan and stop reading poor books rather than wade through them.

  3. marco says:

    >It’s Via delle Oche,not Villa delle Oche. (sorry for the nitpick).In Italy the trilogy has been collected in an elegant and affordable single volume.Ciao,marco

  4. >Thanks very Marco for pointing out that stupid mistake, now you know why I had to retire from dentistry the eyes aren’t what they were.

  5. […] has been reviewed by Glenn at International Noir Fiction, Peter at Words without Borders, Norman at Crime Scraps, and Rob at The View from the Blue […]

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