The Damned Season by Carlo Lucarelli

Esta entrada es bilingüe. Para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse por la pantalla hacia abajo.

Translated from the Italian by Michael Reynolds. Original title L’estate torbida, 1991. First Publication 2007 by Europa Editions. Third printing, 2009. 118 pages. ISBN: 978-1-933372-27-3.

This is the second book in “De Luca trilogy”. At the end of Carte Blanche the Allies had crossed the river Po and the days of Mussolini’s regime were numbered. When The Damned Season opens Comissario De Luca is on his way to Rome under a false identity. As Giovanni Morandi, an engineer from Bologna, he is trying to avoid being recognised and arrested by the partisans in control of the Romagna region. During a brief encounter De Luca is recognised by Brigadier Leonardi, Partisan Police. Leonardi had met him before during a police-training course in Genoa. De Luca was a legend, “the most brilliant detective in the Italian police force”.

Leonardi likes his profession. He thinks he is good at it. But needs experience. The experience he gained by his own won’t be enough before long. Everything’s about to change; but the police force always stay the same, doesn’t matter if Togliatti is in power or De Gasperi.

Leonardi has a first case, nothing to do with politics. And it’s a big deal. He wants to solve it. He wants to go to the carabinieri and tell them this and that happen, so-and-so did it and here’s the evidence. But he needs the help of  …of an engineer.

“So, Signor Engineer, are you going to help me with this case or not?
“Why,” he said. “Do I have a choice?”
Leonardi smiled. “No you don’t.”

I loved this book for its capacity to evoke the difficult times of post-war Italy and for the realistic drawing of its characters. A very satisfactory read indeed. It won’t take me long to read the third one in the series. As pointed out by Rob Kitchin, Lucarelli writes on a show don’t tell style that is very effective.  

The Damned Season has been reviewed by Karen at Euro Crime, Rob at The View from the Blue House, Peter at Detectives Beyond Borders, Norman at Crime Scraps,  

El verano turbio de Carlo Lucarelli (El comisario De Luca)

Este es el segundo libro de la trilogía El comisario De Luca. Al final de Carta blanca los aliados habían cruzado el río Po y los días del régimen de Mussolini estaban contados. Cuando comienza El verano turbio el comisario De Luca se dirige a Roma con una identidad falsa. Como Giovanni Morandi, un ingeniero de Bolonia, está intentando evitar ser reconocido y detenido por los partisanos que controlan la región de la Romaña. En un breve encuentro, De Luca es reconocido por el brigadier Leonardi de la policía partisana. Leonardi lo había visto antes, durante un curso de entrenamiento de la policía en Génova. De Luca era una leyenda, “el detective más brillante de la policía italiana“.

A Leonardi le gusta su profesión. Piensa que tiene capacidad para ser policía. Pero le falta experiencia. La experiencia acumulada hasta el momento no le será suficiente dentro de poco tiempo. Todo está a punto de cambiar, pero la policía siempre es la misma, no importa si es Togliatti quien está en el poder o De Gasperi.

Leonardi tiene que resolver su primer caso, un caso que nada que ver con la política. Y es un gran asunto. Él quiere resolverlo. Él quiere ir a los carabineros y decirlos que fue esto o aquello lo que sucedió, que tal o cual lo hizo y que aquí tienen las pruebas. Pero necesita la ayuda de … de un ingeniero.

“Así que, señor ingeniero, ¿Va a ayudarme con este caso o no?
“¿Por qué”, dijo. “¿Tengo alguna opción?”
Leonardi sonrió. “No, no la tiene.”

Me encantó este libro por su capacidad para evocar los tiempos difíciles de la posguerra italiana y por el dibujo realista de sus personajes. Una lectura muy satisfactoria. No voy a tardar en leer el tercero de la serie. Como ha señalado Rob Kitchin, Lucarelli muestra no dice, un estilo que resulta muy eficaz.

SinC25 and Crime Fiction on a Euro Pass – Thy (Denmark)

Sisters in Crime Book Bloggers Challenge is Barbara Fister’s idea to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Sisters in Crime, an international organization founded in 1986 to promote the professional development and advancement of women writing crime fiction.

Crime Fiction on a Euro Pass is a community meme hosted by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise. The idea behind is that participants write a post linked to the country of the week. This week’s country is Denmark. You can visit HERE the contribution of other fellow participants.

Whenever possible I will try to combine in a single post both challenges.

Thy is  a traditional Danish district located in the upper north west of the Jutland peninsula. The main towns are Thisted, Hanstholm and Hurup. The west of Thy has been designated as the first Danish national park.  You can visit Thy National Park webpage and Vacation in Thy for additional information. (The Jutland map was taken from Wikipedia)

Thy did call my attention thanks to Dorte Hummelshoj Jakobsen whom I met thanks to her blog, djskrimiblog. Dorte is a teacher from Denmark, teaching English at upper secondary level. In her spare time she reads and writes crime fiction in English and Danish, and in 2010 she sold her first flash stories to American magazines and publishers. Since then she has published two collections of flash fiction, Candied Crime (humour) and Liquorice Twists (a bit darker). Her bestseller is the romantic ghost story Heather Farm (suspense plus romance in the Dunes near the Danish west coast). Her latest mystery The Cosy Knave is a cosy mystery featuring village constable Archibald Penrose and the librarian Rhapsody Gershwin. If you are curious, try the free story Zed Alley, featuring Rhapsody Gershwin. (From Smashwords).

I’ve always wondered, what features should have a cosy crime fiction to make it cosy?  According to Dorte:

  1. an amateur sleuth with a useful job or position, but also someone who can get help from the police when she needs it: the librarian Rhapsody, engaged to the local constable.
  2. a suitable setting: a small village where everybody knows everybody else, including their sordid – or silly – secrets, the kind of place that tend to make you forget that the good, old days never really existed.
  3. the right kind of crimes, meaning a couple of murders are all right, as long as the readers are spared the dirty truths about the shock and pain they cause. For once, bloodthirsty old Macbeth got it right when he said:”If it were done when ’tis done, thentwere well / It were done quickly.”
  4. plenty of quirky characters: readers will expect prattling dog walkers, stuck-up mushroom ‘experts’, taciturn farmers and constables called Smith, Wesson and Winchester.
  5. finally, the traditional cosy is expected to be free of sex scenes and swearing – so this is the perfect gift for granny, your young daughter, or anyone who likes having their crime candied.

My review of The Cosy Knave is coming soon. Stay tuned.

Recently other female crime writers from Denmark have been translated into English, but they do not fit into the cosy category. I’m afraid I have not read any of them yet but we can find books by Lene Kaaberbøl (co-author with Agnete Friis of The Boy in the Suitcase), Sissel-Jo Gazan. Sara Blædel, Elsebeth Eglholm. I’m particularly interested in The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbøl & Agnete Friis. It will be published next November for English readers by Soho Press. This is the first instalment in the long-running Danish bestselling series featuring Red Cross nurse Nina Borg and you can find HERE Dorte’s review.