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The New York Times Sunday Book Review: "De Giovanni’s slashing wit cuts deeply into his cameo portraits of the high and mighty, even as his elegant style ennobles the wretched lives he views with such compassion."

Date: Apr 21 2014

The incessant rains of autumn are driving people mad in THE DAY OF THE DEAD (Europa Editions, paper, $18), the fourth in a series of seasonal mysteries by Maurizio de Giovanni (in a stylish translation by Antony Shugaar) set in Naples during the regime of Benito Mussolini. The autumn of 1931 may be a jolly time for the rich and powerful, but not for the melancholy Commissario Luigi Alfredo Ricciardi, who is cursed with the ability to see those lost souls who have died a violent death and to hear their last words.

As if bearing witness to the unhappy dead weren’t depressing enough, Il Duce is coming to Naples and Ricciardi has been ordered to abandon his inquiry into the lonely demise of a street urchin lest an unsolved crime investigation spoil Mussolini’s visit to “the ideal Fascist city.” De Giovanni’s slashing wit cuts deeply into his cameo portraits of the high and mighty, even as his elegant style ennobles the wretched lives he views with such compassion.

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