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BLACK RUN by Antonio Manzini


by Antonio Manzini translated by Antony Shugaar

Pub Date: April 28th, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-06-231004-0
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Manzini’s first English translation presents an irascible policeman who’d rather be back among the fleshpots of his beloved Rome than clambering over a piste in an Alpine resort collecting evidence in a snowy murder case.

The mangled corpse that tears Deputy Police Chief Rocco Schiavone from the side of his mistress, Nora, is identifiable only by a tattoo that matches that of the dead man's wife and business partner, Luisa Pec. Leone Micchichè, the husband who never came home the night before, had been married barely a year, but already he and Luisa had big plans. They ran Belle Cuneaz, a successful mountainside bar and trattoria that catered to the tourist trade. Leone wanted to sell some properties he held jointly with his brother Domenico in order to raise further working capital. Luisa had recently discovered that she was pregnant. All that ended when someone shoved a handkerchief into Leone’s mouth, covered him in snow and abandoned him to his fate, which as it turned out was to be run over by a snowcat operator whose machine tore the body to pieces. Rocco’s interest in whodunit is dwarfed by his interest in arranging with his old friend Sebastiano Cecchetti to skim his cut from a marijuana shipment they plan to confiscate, or purchasing appropriate shoes for his unwelcome new case, or making time with the attractive clerk who sells him the shoes, or getting reassigned to Rome at the first opportunity, or joining his long-suffering wife, Marina, in dreaming about Rome in the meantime—though his interests in the Eternal City are clearly different from hers.

The suspects are thin as onionskin, and the culprit might have been plucked from a hat. But Rocco’s detective chops are as authentic as his crabbiness and his matter-of-fact corruption, and the denouement at Leone’s funeral has to set some kind of record for calculated bad taste.