Everyone in Their Place: The Summer of Commisario Ricciardi

Written by Antony Shugaar (trans.) Maurizio de Giovanni
Review by Alana White

Set in 1930s Naples, Italy, Everyone in Their Place features a remarkable protagonist in the shape of Commissario Luigi Alfredo Ricciardi. Ricciardi is a solitary soul. He seldom speaks. When he does it is with a cool irony that most fail to understand. He is an enigma, one his fellow police officers fear while respecting his ability to solve murder investigations. No one knows Ricciardi has visions. He sees and hears the final seconds in the lives of victims of violent deaths. Thus, he has closed himself off emotionally. How can he involve people – a lover – in his private torments?

In this utterly delightful and compelling novel, a wealthy duchess has been murdered. Ricciardi means to find her killer, despite his commanding officer’s warning not to offend her privileged Neapolitan family. As Ricciardi stubbornly continues his investigation during the sweltering Neapolitan summer, we meet the many characters who come alive in the story. The author admirably puts each in their place, from Ricciardi’s indefatigable partner, Brigadier Maione – who is convinced his wife is having an affair with the local fruit vendor – to the duchess’ stepson, who loathed the murdered woman and mocks her death at her funeral dressed in a white suit and red tie and sporting a splendid gardenia in his lapel.

The author’s gentle touch has Ricciardi trading shy waves from his bedroom window with the pretty young woman who sits embroidering in the sitting room of her home across the way each night. This, even as his visions continue: a young boy killed in a car accident on the way for ice cream, the murdered duchess’ last lament.

This is the third book in this wonderfully original series, which is a runaway hit in Europe. Adding to this particular title’s virtues is Antony Shugaar’s seamless translation from the Italian. Very highly recommended.