This is the second in the Bordelli series (and the third that I’ve read), and once again Bordelli is having trouble sleeping, and can’t seem to leave the cigarettes alone. The usual cast of characters make only small appearances: a few meals at Da Cesare prepared by his friend Toto, a brief late night meeting with Dante, a chat with Botta. The food, as always in this series, is excellent, and the wine and grappa flow freely. He spends several evenings with his friend Rosa, and meets an exceptionally beautiful young woman named Milena.
There are two murder mysteries: one is a serial killer who targets very young girls; the other is the murder of a dwarf that Bordelli has known for years. The serial killer has left no clues behind, and the other murderer has apparently simply left town, so Bordelli is even more melancholic and restless than usual.
One of the big attractions of this series is the way that Bordelli and many others remain obsessed by their experience in the war. The novels are set in the early to mid 60s, and for Italians of the era, the intervening 20 years since the end of WWII was nowhere near long enough to erase the terrible memories of fascist rule and nazi conquest. Bordelli constantly returns in his memory to the nearly two years he spent in the San Marco brigade, fighting against the German occupiers. These memories help solidify the time and place in which the novels are set.
In all, this is a very satisfying novel. I would have liked to have seen more of the other characters, and further development of the Piras character in particular (though that will come in Death in Sardinia), but it was reasonable for Vichi to give most of his attention to filling out the Bordelli character. I certainly look forward to translations of his other books, especially the two or three more in the Bordelli series.