When a second girl is found dead a couple of days later with the same macabre signature it’s obvious we’re looking at a deranged serial killer, and as the victims continue to pile up and Casimiro stays missing, Bordelli and his partner latch onto a suspect and place him under surveillance, which turns out to be an issue when the killings continue with the suspect seemingly sitting on an ironclad alibi. 

Along the way they find Casimiro’s body, packed into a suitcase in his flat, and as the investigation continues there isn’t too much in the way of the forensic detecting we’ve come to expect in recent takes on the police procedural. 

Actually, Death and the Olive Grove isn’t really a police procedural at all, more a police perambulation as Bordelli goes about his business, musing on his wartime experiences, picking up snippets of information from the numerous underworld figures that make up his circle of acquaintances and reassuring all and sundry that he’s working on the case and expects to come up with a solution soon.

The solution, when it arrives, is triggered by an involvement with a beautiful (and very much younger) associate of Nazi hunter Dr Levi, a sort of colleague from wartime, when they exacted an eye for an eye revenge against Germans who were responsible for atrocities involving Italians (Bordelli) and Jews (Dr Levi). Dr Levi is still on the case, pursuing a particularly nasty war criminal but isn’t interested in delivering him to the Italian criminal justice system.

If you’re looking for action packed tales involving forensic nitpicking, close attention to detail and a lively pace Bordelli probably isn’t for you, and if you’re averse to textual references to what amounts to high-powered chain smoking he’s definitely not for you, but if you’re a fan of Andrea Camilleri’s Montalbano Bordelli's cut from much the same cloth with a healthy disrespect for his superiors, an obstinate determination to do things his way and an appetite that takes him into the kitchens of the Florentine restaurants he frequents.

An interesting character in a setting that suits the quirks in his personality, Bordelli might not be everyone’s cup of tea but he’ll do me. The next title in the series is an automatic purchase as far as Hughesy is concerned, and I’ll be watching the horizon for subsequent instalments...

© Ian Hughes 2012