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The thick fog that usually clings to the town, blurring its surroundings and plunging its inhabitants into near-blindness, has been driven out by the raging storm. So when an empty barge drifts downriver, the fact the owner is missing does not go unnoticed.
That same night Commissario Soneri is called in to investigate the murder of the boatman's brother. The brothers served together in the fascist militia fifty years earlier could this be a revenge killing after so long? Soneri's investigation meets with a wall of silence from those who make their living along the banks of river. As the fog descends and the valley is hidden once more, Soneri must navigate fifty-year-old loyalties and deep-rooted rivalries before he can find out the truth. If you don't you will feel damp and cold as Varesi effortlessly evokes the Po valley at its worst, along with the people who try and make a living from it.
Old enmities from the Second World War live on with the intervening years representing little more than an armed truce. In fact the war seems eerily present throughout the book. The mists from the Po produce their own ghosts.
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Soneri himself was something of an enigma to me. He seemed old, with his love of opera and good food and wine yet drove a youthful sports car.
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He seemed reserved and thoughtful, but accommodated his girlfriend's addiction to having sex in unconventional places. He is though courtesy of Varesi well versed in the resentments which sprang from the fighting between the Fascists and the Partisans in the closing years of the war.
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It might be fifty years on but the grievances are still real and even those who might be thought to be on the side of right have problems. I was glad that I was a veteran of the Aurelio Zen and Commissario Guido Brunetti investigations or I might have struggled to understand the complexities of the Italian law enforcement structure, which I didn't think were particularly well explained for a non-Italian readership. It is, however, the first book in a series which is currently one of Italy's most popular television series and I'm looking forward to reading about Soneri's future investigations.
I wasn't entirely convinced by the first book in the Inspector Salvo Montalbano series, but now I can't wait for the next book in the series to be published. Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.