At first glance, Private Detective Giorgia Cantini is not a pretty sight as she sits at a bar, downing her fourth cocktail of the night, feeling moody and obnoxious. Brutally honest, she smokes too much, exercises too little, eats on the run, and — the cardinal sin for Italian women — is a messy housekeeper. Yet, despite all that, people trust her and are attracted to her as a confidant. Her stream of unhappy clients comes from the conventional middle-class and upper-middle-class confines of Bolognese families. While the Cantini Detective Agency mostly investigates the tangled affairs of unhappily married couples, Verasani exposes the hierarchies and prejudices of Italian “family culture” that often lead to tragic acts of violence against those who stray from domestic and sexual norms.
Giorgia’s own family is a prime example of that dysfunctional family culture. The nominal head of the agency is her alcoholic father, a retired major of the Carabinieri. Both her mother and sister Ada are dead, both suicides. Although a true loner, Giorgia negotiates a vital network of artists, clients, friends, misfits, and lovers.
What is the dark secret behind Alvise Lumini’s fiancée? Is Engineer Comolli’s wife having an affair? Will their daughter starve herself to death? Did Giordano Lattice murder his wife? Why is the film professor Andrea Berti pursuing Giorgia? What is the secret hidden in the box of Ada’s letters that arrive unexpectedly in Giorgia’s apartment? Mixed in with traditional sleuthing we find a novel about character and family history, domestic violence, changing Italy, and the textures of life in Bologna.
“This delicious novel is a genre all its own — Italian neorealism meets feminist noir. I can’t wait for more Verasani in English.” — Sara Paretsky
Introduction, 180 pages.