Valerio Varesi Returns
Valerio Varesi’s first novel in translation, River of Shadows, was shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association’s International Dagger award in 2011, and was very well received by the press: Boyd Tonkin in the Independent hailed Varesi as a “master storyteller”.
Well, now he is back with The Dark Valley, a similarly dark and brooding mystery, once again with roots in Italy’s murky past, the struggle between Fascists and Communists as the Second World War came to an end. Commissario Soneri escapes the stale politics of the prefecture in Parma to take a well-earned holiday in the village of his birth, but finds its inhabitants in uproar over the collapse of its main industry, a salame factory owned by the Rodolfi family.
Readers of River of Shadows will delight in the same smouldering, slow-burn atmosphere and intensity, but perhaps find a difference in the drama that surrounds the Dark Valley‘s climax. As bodies begin to appear in the woods, the Carabinieri launch an all-out assault on their prime suspect, an old woodsman who still lives on the same mountain he defended from S.S. commandos decades earlier.
As with River of Shadows, much of the appeal lies with the Commissario himself: hard-boiled sophisticate, bon viveur and ladies’ man. His reluctant involvement in the case becomes all the more personal when he learns that his father and the Roldofi patriarch were once friends.