Italy, 1945. A volley of grenades disrupts both the funeral of a controversial figure named Tornago and the first case of Commissario De Luca, who has just moved over from the Political Police to the regular Milan force. De Luca's victim is Rehinard Vittorio, a prominent member of the Fascist Republican Party murdered at home. De Luca learns how futile it is to try to avoid politics when his Chief instructs him to catch the killer, whoever it is. "Even if he's a German?" De Luca asks. "Of course, a German, no," the Chief replies. "But that is obvious." Such irony and duplicity run throughout De Luca's probe. Tenacious cop Maresciallo Pugliese, inquisitive and thick-skinned, proves an apt foil. Since the murder weapon was a paper knife, De Luca shrewdly theorizes that the killer was a woman and the crime one of passion. Indeed, a handful of fiery woman are the likeliest suspects. Sonia Tedesco, the nymphet daughter of Vittorio's best friend, flirts with De Luca even as she halfheartedly denies an intimate relationship with the murdered man. And De Luca gets dangerously close to a seductive clairvoyant named Valeria Suvich at the possible expense of his career.
The first volume in a trilogy by noir master Lucarelli (Almost Blue, 2001, etc.) is a smart and stylish crime yarn.