A Florentine Death by Giuttari is an easy and pretty lazy read. It won’t challenge you at any level, telling a simple story of murder and revenge in plain language with little attempt to flesh out characters in detail, or to use description to enhance the mood and suspense. A good holiday read.
Michele Giuttari, the author, was an Italian policeman and the procedural aspects of the novel are detailed and accurate, whilst the criminal elements are convincing to some extent – the different roles of the officers and investigators, the Italian nature of the police force. He spends some time exploring the nature of serial killers and again shows some expertise in this area, as far as I can conclude.
The story itself is about an Italian detective involved in solving a series of crimes which appear to be leading to his own murder. He is an engaging enough character, painted in a few simple details, and part of a police force similarly consisting of OK blokes doing blokeish things. Alternate chapters deal with other characters who fit into the puzzle of the story in different ways. There are red herrings as the plot flows along – antique dealers, homosexuality, the FBI, the Mafia, black magic, and the Catholic Church are all strewn across the pages as possible motives for the murders. There is a simple but basic common element that links the deaths, and which Ferrara the protagonist identifies before anyone else. The writer also throws in some office politics to keep us interested and attempt to create some variety.
However the characters and their motivations are a little unconvincing and shallow. There is a revenge motive which is very basic; whilst it seems likely from early on that revenge is an issue, the details are only revealed in the last chapter. In fact there are two separate revenge motives, which does strain credibility a bit. The most interesting characters form part of a doomed lesbian relationship, and the murderers own sexual proclivities are explored to some extent but in a simplistic, not in an interesting or credible way.
All in all this was an easy read but quite formulaic with a fairly predictable and uninspiring ending. I’m planning to leave it on the bookshelves of a holiday cottage – its natural environment.