When Michelangelo, a young autistic child, goes missing, Commissario Sergio Striggio is put in charge of the investigation. Searches turn up nothing, but there is an interesting connection with the mother's past: when she was a child, her twin brother also went missing, never to be found.
However, Striggio is finding it difficult to concentrate on the case. He is waiting for his father, Pietro, to come and stay. The idea of the visit is torturing him. He fears having to reveal that he is gay - most of all he fears that his partner, Leo, will reveal his sexuality to his father. Pietro, however, has other matters on his mind: he has news of a devastating diagnosis to share with his son.
And when his life with Leo unexpectedly collides with his investigation into Michelangelo's disappearance, it seems that in the complicated web of the small town of Bolzano, the truth behind the mystery cannot hide for long.
Valse Triste is one of those rare novels in which the quality of the writing is matched by the pace of the narrative. Fois' language is precise and poetic, and the reader is kept guessing by twist after twist.
Translated from the Italian by Richard Dixon
Richard Dixon is a former barrister, and a literary translator from Italian. His previous translations include works by Umberto Eco and Giacomo Leopardi, and poetry by Franco Buffoni and Eugenio De Signoribus.
With the support of the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union