Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Neopolitan Streak by Timothy Holme

The late author, Timothy Holme, leaves us with a lovely five-book series set in Italy's troubled 1980s, about a southern Italian man who works for the State Police in Verona.

I've read the first book in this series, The Neapolitan Streak, and I enjoyed it immensely.  The protagonist, Inspector Achille Peroni, is a unique and fun character.  The author lets us get inside the head of this gorgeous Neapolitan man, where we discover his vanity, ample ego, dual character of former child criminal and today's honorable policeman, Anglophile, poser, publicity hound, loving brother and uncle, and his innate desire to uncover the truth.  Here is quote describing the protagonist's thoughts as he races through the streets of Verona in a police car:
Peroni had no hesitation about using the siren this time, and the police car in which he wsa riding with two colleagues surged with a wild, banshee wail through the rain-washed streets.  But heads were turning less than they used to do, he noticed with disappointment, and it wasn't only the weather.  It was over-familiarity.  The Italians were getting so accustomed to tragedies and disasters that their appetite for sensation was becoming jaded.

The author uses the 3rd person limited narrative style, but he moves the point-of-view between the characters so we get an insight not only into Achille, but of how others view him.  This technique lets us see the hostility a southern Italian can suffer in Northern Italy, but also the view of the southerner to the Northerner's character, which adds another level of enjoyment to the stories.

The author uses a light touch, employing humor and irony, and he clearly loves to share the details of everyday Italian life with outsiders.  His take on Italians is affectionate but honest. Italy is a country of stark contrasts in landscape, the physical characteristics of her people, and in the characters of the 20 patchwork regions that make up modern Italy.  The readers gains an insight into what it is like to live inside the skin of Italians, at least for a little while, until the crime is solved by Inspector Achille Peroni, the "Rudolph Valentino of the Italian Police".

This is from the description on the first book in the series The Neapolitan Streak
Achille Peroni loves the spicy food and passionate arguments of southern Italy, land of his birth. But fate -- and the Italian police force -- have stuck him in Verona, a city of bean soup and endless problems with the Red Brigades, a vicious gang that relies on bombs and high-profile kidnappings to further its rather fuzzy political aims.

When a wealthy general, head of one of Italy's finest Fascist families, goes missing from his palatial estate, the Reds are the most obvious suspects.  But Peroni finds himself considering a crime far more subtle and sinister than anything the Reds can dream up.  A crime, in fact, the leads all the way back to Romeo and Juliet, the most famous Veroneses of them all.

There are five books in this entertaining series:
  1. The Neapolitan Streak
  2. The Funeral of Gondolas
  3. The Devil and the Dolce Vita
  4. The Assisi Murders
  5. At the Lake of Sudden Death

The book series is, sadly, currently out-of-print, but it was re-released in 2008, so there should be second-hand volumes out there.  And check your local library.  It is worth the effort.

This review is by Candida Martinelli, of Candida Martinelli's Italophile Site, and the author of the cozy-murder-mystery novel AN EXTRA VIRGIN PRESSING MURDER, and the young-adult/adult mystery novel series THE VIOLET STRANGE MYSTERIES the first book of which is VIOLET'S PROBLEM.

No comments:

Post a Comment