This blog entry was intended as a private note. I decided to make it public in case it could be of interest to any regular or sporadic reader of The Game’s Afoot.
Giorgio Scerbanenco is considered the father of Italian hard boiled fiction. Born in Kiev from an Ukrainian father and an Italian mother, in what was then the Russian Empire, on 28 July 1911, he immigrated with his family to Rome at an early age. He moved to Milan when he was 18 and worked as a journalist and as a contributor to women’s magazines before becoming a full-time writer. His first books were detective novels set in USA, clearly inspired by the works of Edgar Wallace and S.S. Van Dine, and signed with a pen name that seemed English. Although he cultivated several genres, Scerbanenco is best-known for his crime and detective novels. Many of his books were brought into the big screen or were turned into a TV series. He died of a heart attack in Milan on 27 October 1969. The most prestigious Italian literary prize for crime fiction is named after him. His most famous noir novels, the Duca Lamberti series, comprises the following titles:
- 1966 Venere privata; English title: A Private Venus; Spanish title: Venus privada
- 1966 Traditori di tutti; English title: Betrayal (aka Duca and the Milan Murders); Spanish title: Traidores a todos
- 1968 I ragazzi del massacro; English translation: The Boys of the Massacre; Spanish title: Muerte en la escuela
- 1969 I milanesi ammazzano al sabato; English translation: The Milanese kill on Saturday; Spanish title: Los milaneses matan en sábado
The main character, Duca Lamberti, isn’t actually a PI. He’s a former doctor from Milan who was expelled from the Italian Medical Association (for euthanasia) and who freelances for the Polizia di Stato (National Police). Scerbanenco was awarded Le Grand prix de la littérature policière 1968 for his book Traditori di Tutti, which was translated into English by E. Ellenbogen, as Duca and the Milan Murders (Littlehampton Book Services Ltd, 1970) and has just been republished as Betrayal (Hersilia Press, 2014) with a new translation by Howard Curtis.