Set in a small town in Sicily, the novel "To Each His Own," starts with a death threat: "..." But the town pharmacist who receives the threat, Manno, is convinced he has done no wrong and dismisses the threat as a joke. The next day, he and his hunting companion, Dr. Roscio, are found dead. There are no obvious suspects and no obvious motives. After a perfunctory investigation by the town marshal, the local Professor Laurana takes up the case only to have it all end badly.
The author, Leonardo Sciascia, is widely considered a prominent Sicilian author, a master who pretty much invented the form of the "metaphysical mystery". This dazzling page-turner is ample evidence of the master's craft. The book (as are all of Sciascia's works) is also a social commentary on Sicily with its culture of secrets and violence. When the pharmacist and doctor are done in, there is hardly much of a stir in the local populace. The marshal comes down from the county seat to briefly investigate the "big headache", speculations are tossed around and life goes on. The silence and nonchalance are chilling.
The New York Review of Books recently reprinted "To Each His Own" under its "classics" issues (and what a great service that is!). I am eager to read the rest of the talented Sciascia's works. A word of caution--the edition published by the New York Review of Books has a wonderful introduction to the novel in the beginning. Save this for after you have read the book. While the introduction is good, it gives too much of the plot away!
The final word must belong to the absolutely haunting painting on the book cover. Called "Night in Velate" and rendered by the Italian painter, Renato Guttuso, the picture is the perfect choice for the dark, wonderful book.
If you look closely enough, you can almost see the evil lurking and doing its thing under the cover of a deceptively beautiful Sicilian night.