A clever, engaging third novel in the Rocco Schiavone mystery series from bestselling Italian author, Antonio Manzini, following the dashing deputy police chief who confronts his most riveting case ever.
It’s the bitterly cold spring season in alpine Aosta, and a girl has been kidnapped. Chiara Berguet, daughter of the owners of a local construction firm, was targeted thanks to the sizeable debt her parents owe. But like many a best-laid plan, a blown tire causes the crime to go haywire as the kidnappers’ van skids off the road and crashes into a pair of larch trees. Both the driver and his accomplice die on impact, leaving the girl in the back, gagged and bound and unable to break herself free.
Meanwhile Rocco Schiavone wakes to find himself in Anna’s apartment. She’s the best friend of his girlfriend Nora, and memories of the night before, a heated evening with Anna, return to him. As he sneaks out, he sees the first few snowstorm clouds of the spring season move across the sky, an ominous reference that something is off.
If trouble at home and a case of kidnapping weren’t enough, Rocco will eventually have to contend with Enzo Baiocchi. Rocco was the one who sent Enzo to prison, and in the process killed Enzo’s brother. Having just escaped from prison, Enzo is heading north with a newly purchased revolver and, clearly, revenge on his mind. And when an unfortunate incident of mistaken identity makes Enzo’s act of revenge even more fiendish, it also presents a gruesome scene for Rocco to discover on his return home.
Manzini's engrossing third mystery featuring Deputy Police Chief Rocco Schiavone (after 2016's Adam's Rib) opens with a cargo van blowing a tire and veering off a wet, icy road in Italy's mountainous Valle d'Aosta region into a stand of trees. The driver and his front seat passenger are killed almost instantly. It looks like a job for the highway police, until the authorities discover that the van has stolen license plates. Rocco and his motley crew of officers take over the case, which rapidly develops into a web of crimes from money laundering to murder. The complex, plausible plot is peopled with authentic characters, most notably the wry, pot-smoking, disillusioned Rocco, who was born and raised in Rome. When asked why his superiors transferred him to this remote part of Italy, he replies: "Punishment... let's just say that I got a little overenthusiastic." His conversations with colleagues and suspects are sprinkled with wit and astutely shed light on Italy's political and cultural conundrums. Readers will hope to see a lot more of Rocco.