Still smarting from the assault on a rapist that got him banished from Rome to pokey Val d’Aosta, Deputy Police Chief Rocco Schiavone goes after whomever killed a local lady and tried to make her death look like suicide.
And it certainly does look like suicide when Belarusian cleaner Irina Olgova lets herself into her regular employers’ home and discovers Esther Baudo hanging from the ceiling of her husband’s den. Patrizio Baudo, sales rep for athletic equipment, returns home from his morning exercise to find himself a widower. But his grief turns to rage when a casual observation by Schiavone indicates that his wife’s suicide was really homicide. For a time it seems that the deputy police chief, who’s constantly correcting the people who call him “Commissario,” will have little time for the case, since he’s preoccupied with finding an acceptable birthday gift for Nora Tardioli, his pushy mistress, and keeping tabs on Giorgio Ansaldo, who’s resumed raping young women, including the niece of an old friend of Schiavone’s, back in Rome, and fretting about how many pairs of desert boots he’s worn out since his exile to Aosta. But he uses an effective combination of logic and brute force to prove who stole a brooch of Esther Baudo’s right around the time of her death, and at length he brings the case to a solution out of Agatha Christie as satisfying as it is unexpected here.
It’s hard to believe the ingenuity behind the central mystery, which seems routine until the denouement. But Schiavone (Black Run, 2015) continues to make a memorable companion in crime.