Written by Maurizio de Giovanni — With the rise of European translations hitting the bookshelves, I Will Have Vengeance joins the ranks. Originally released in Italy in 2007, this is the first English translation from the Commissario Ricciardi series.
Set in 1931, the spectre of fascism hanging over the heads of all the characters, the story follows the Naples detective Ricciardi as he investigates the murder of celebrated and famous tenor Arnaldo Vezzi. The victim was killed in his dressing room during the opera he is performing in, and Ricciardi soon discovers there is a plethora of possible suspects. He is tasked with discovering who murdered the arrogant and universally hated singer.
There is a twist however. Ricciardi is no ordinary detective. Upon entering a murder scene, he sees the victim’s last moments before death. Ricciardi uses this ability to aid his investigations, believing there is always truth behind their final words. The question is, who despised the singer enough to kill him, and who had the opportunity to do so…
I’ll have to be honest up front here. I’m half Italian. So anything remotely linked to Italy is always going to do well with me as the reader. That said, I’m not the biggest fan of translations, believing instead that most literature loses a lot in the process. So, I approached I Will Have Vengeance with trepidation.
If this had been presented as a standard crime novel – detective investigating murder – I possibly wouldn’t have enjoyed as much. However, the extra supernatural touch with the detective seeing dead people (well, nearly dead people anyway) added something more to the story than just the usual. It also worked very well for the character, giving him an extra, enigmatic edge.
The excellence of the story is lent weight by its tone. Equal parts tense and beautiful, the translation works well in the main. While some sections read better in Italian, overall it’s a great job carried out with just the right sprinkling of original text in there. A very good start to what should be an interesting series, I’m looking forward to reading the next instalment.
CFL Rating: 4 Stars