Death and the Olive Grove

Written by Marco Vichi Stephen Sartarelli (trans.)
Review by Beth Turza

Florence, Italy sets the scene for this murder mystery, in which we find Inspector Bordelli and his partner Piras following two different murder investigations. The story takes place in the 1960s, with WWII and the German occupation of their city still fresh in the minds of our law officers, as they recall their roles in the war, and those memories impact the cases. The first murder involves the dwarf Casimiro, one the department informers. He takes the inspector to an olive grove outside an 18th-century villa, insisting that he saw a dead body there while poking around, but all they find is a Doberman set upon them by a mysterious man with a long black mark on his neck. Casimiro meets a grisly death, and the inspector is certain that he was killed because he returned to the olive grove to spy on the reclusive German man. The other case involves a serial killer of little girls, found with human bite marks, and they struggle for clues as more children are being murdered. The inspector calls for the aid of the White Dove, a Nazi-hunting organization, hoping that they can help him put together the pieces of this awful crime and bring the murders to an end.

I must admit I am not an Inspector Bordelli fan, finding the constant referencing to his smoking coupled with other people’s reactions to his chain smoking very distracting, an annoying addition to the book’s word count. The mystery story can stand alone without painting such a bleak and negative picture of the lonely, depressed inspector. The conclusion was a very good one.