Equally interesting is the unfolding string of events in Sardinia. Piras, as we are aware, is the son of one of Bordelli's resistance colleagues, and is impatient to get the recuperative process out of the way, ditch the crutches and get back to Florence and his highly attractive Sicilian girlfriend. With time on his hands, he is drawn into the events surrounding the suicide of a neighbour's cousin which, as previously mentioned, he begins to suspect is not suicide at all.

That supposition is based on the absence of the spent cartridge near the body, but regardless of whether it was actually suicide a bloke with time on his hands is going to dig a little bit to see what was happening around the victim in the days leading up to his death. That bit of digging around suggests he was in the middle of selling off his property, but negotiations had reached an impasse.

Fair enough, you might think. Financial issues (or whatever) prompt the bloke to put the property on the market, things break down, bloke can’t carry on and decides to top himself. Yes, a reasonable enough explanation in theory. But who’s the buyer?

Again, someone who has his plate full might leave it at that, but Piras has time on his hands, a motive to dig in the form of deeply distressed relatives who were close to the victim, and keeps on going. Checking out the buyer reveals a man whose background seems to lie in areas where all the official records had been destroyed, which is possible, but uncomfortably coincidental, and when a personal encounter reveals a prickly individual with a spent cartridge caught in the sole of his shoe...

Go much further than that and you’re in spoiler territory, but that’s two of the three strands that run through the novel accounted for. The third, predictably, has a seasonal focus as Bordelli sorts out a Christmas present for Rosa and sets up a Christmas dinner to be cooked by Botta. He hadn’t been released from jail in time to help with the break-in that might have saved Badalamenti’s life but is just in time to look after the seasonal feast. There are, of course, other delicacies mentioned during Bordelli's visits to Toto’s restaurant kitchen and Piras’ recovery is accompanied by his mother’s Sardinian home cooking.

Three books into the series you might be inclined to gripe about the continued recurrence of wartime reminiscences and the repeated appearance of Fascist and Nazi nasties, but with five years to go until he retires that’s going to bring him into the middle of the violent years of the late sixties and early seventies, The Years of Lead with plots, coup attempts, bombings, intrigues, the rise of right- and left-wing paramilitary groups, and street warfare between rival factions. 

Given Vichi’s habit of keeping characters from earlier episodes on the edges of the action is subsequent stories, you’d expect the long-haired dope-smoking Stones fans to stick around the periphery and they’re the sort of people who could well end up in some offshoot of the Red Brigades. On that basis you’d have to suspect Vichi has set things up rather nicely for a very interesting ongoing series. 

Bordelli's world view, his friendships with ex-criminals, prostitutes and others who have been marginalised by mainstream society make it fairly obvious which side he’ll be leaning towards.

© Ian Hughes 2012