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Pub Date: Dec. 27th, 1985
Publisher: St. Martin's

Less engrossing than the first case for Italy's police-detective Trotti (The Red Citroen, 1983), this second murder-and-politics mystery begins when Commissario Trotti--on vacation at a northern Italian lake-resort--witnesses the sniper killing of a 35-ish journalist named Maltese. Just a coincidence that Trotti was on the scene? Perhaps. But why, then, is he himself soon near-fatally ambushed on the way home to his small northern city near Milan? And why does his sleuthing lead him to (among other suspects) a menacing professor whose students include. . . Trotti's own daughter Pioppi? It's a sticky labyrinth indeed--which begins to uncoil only when Trotti discovers two things about dead reporter Maltese: he was in the midst of exposing Italian-bank improprieties; and his real name was Ramoverde, making him the grandson of the victim in a famous 1960 domestic-murder case that was never persuasively solved! Is the old mystery connected to the new one? What financial/political chicanery was Maltese about to uncover? Well, Trotti ponders these and other questions as he talks to old village priests, young urban guerrillas, and other strongly-etched characters. And he eventually places the blame for almost all the crimes on a dangerous, secret, Mafia-connected society--in a less-than-satisfying, over-convoluted denouement. The personal side of Trotti is also a little disappointing this time: his worries over Pioppi (an anorexia victim) and wife Agnese (a cool, distant career-woman) are too sketchy for serious involvement, too disturbing to ignore. Still, with Williams' impressively detailed backgrounds and quietly effective narration, the north-Italy milieu remains somberly distinctive--so fans of dark-edged, politically textured Euro-mystery will want to keep track of Trotti's adventures.