de Giovanni does some interesting and clever things in this novel.

Chapter 26, “what do you ask of a spring night”, is a look at the sorrows, hopes, and dreams of each of the major characters, without ever naming any of them. It is sad and beautiful in a way that I like.

And chapter 50 is a trio consisting of brigadier Maione (and family), Livia, and Enrica (two women who each are in love with Ricciardi); a trio whose theme is pastiera, and in which the last motif for each player is taken up by the next. It is the one truly light-hearted chapter in the book, and it was executed really well.

The novel is very similar in structure to the other books in the series: we hear the thoughts of the murderer as he (or she) plans or carries out the murder; Ricciardi hears the last thoughts of the dead, and not just those of the case he is investigating; there is an underlying motif that is explored in various ways - love and hunger in this case; there is a dangerous side plot involving one of Ricciardi’s close associates; and, finally, Ricciardi has a flash of insight that leads him to the successful conclusion of the case. So, not so very different from other police procedurals, but it feels very different because of Ricciardi’s odd gift / curse. And, of course, there are the occasional lyrical chapters (like chapter 26, mentioned above, and a couple others) that set the novel apart from the usual just-the-facts + love-interest approach in most murder mysteries.

In all, an excellent addition to the series and well worth reading.



Book cover

Metadata Info

  • Title: Viper: A Commissario Ricciardi Mystery
  • Author: Maurizio de Giovanni
  • Published: 2012
  • ISBN: 1609452518
  • Buy: Amazon search
  • Check out: Seattle library
  • Rating: 4.0 stars