Sunday, December 08, 2019

Cold for the Bastards of Pizzofalcone, Maurizio De Giovanni

Been away for a while, I've resolved to keep up a little better, with short reviews at least. Just read Cold for the Bastards of Pizzofalcone, by Maurizio De Giovanni, the third of his "bastards" novels to be translated into English (in Europa's World Noir series). This series is a little lighter than his Commissario Ricciardi series (the commissario hears the voices of the dead, after all), but there's a lot of misery, not least among the diverse group of detectives "exiled" for various reasons to the Pizzofalcone police station, where they linger awaiting the closing of the station, occasionally amassing their forces to solve a case and try to save the station and their jobs.

This book starts with two cases: a teacher suspects that one of her students is being molested by her father and a brother and sister are found murdered in his apartment, with no suspects of motive that the cops can discover. Most of the book follows the frustrating investigations by the team, with various cops coming into the primary focus, rather than a single detective. The result is a "collective novel, a bit like Ed McBain's 87th Precinct series, or the Martin Beck novels of Sjöwall and Wahlöö. Were it not for the pervading misery, I would almost call the Pizzofalcone novels "cozies," since there are certain social norms reinforced by the stories (also the case, with, for example, another very dark, noir author, George Pelecanos.

All in all, De Giovanni is a very interesting writer, and I'm grateful to Europa Editions for making. his work available.  One note--the "stand-alone" novel by the same author, The Crocodile, is in part a "prequel" to the bastards series, setting up one character who will become part of the team in the series--you might want to read the Crocodile before
starting on the series.