A first American appearance for a shrewd, worldly Florentine police inspector with some appealingly unexpected affinities.
Florence, 1963. Maria Dolci is somehow convinced that Signora Rebecca Pedretti-Strassen, to whom Maria acts as full-time companion, doesn’t answer her door because she’s dead inside, murdered. Sure enough, when Inspector Bordelli quietly breaks into the Villa Pedretti-Strassen, he finds its mistress inside, just as dead as her companion feared. Although it’s clear that the signora died of an asthma attack, Bordelli is equally inclined to follow Maria’s lead in considering this a case of murder. The obvious suspects, according to the victim’s brother, antic inventor Dante Pedretti, are her nephews, Anselmo and Giulio Morozzi, who have no idea that their aunt has left her considerable fortune to the Sisters of Monte Frassineto. Both brothers, however, offer an unbreakable alibi: They were out late, dining and drinking with their wives, on the night of their aunt’s death. Relegating the job of building a logical case against them to his new subordinate Piras, a bright young man from Sardinia whose father served with Bordelli during the war, Bordelli focuses instead on what he does best: eating, drinking, showing up his superiors, palling around with the city’s ex-cons and lowlifes, recalling his experiences in the war and the time he lost his virginity, and preparing for a climactic dinner in which his old friend Ennio Bottarini, who happens to be both a burglar and a born cook, prepares a meal for the major suspects and whomever else Bordelli has run into.
Forget the ingenious, disposable mystery. Reading Vichi is like vacationing with friends who’ve lived in Florence all their lives, know how to enjoy all the high and low spots, and solve murders.