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The Damned Season [Paperback]

Carlo Lucarelli , Michael Reynolds

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Book Description

May 1 2007

"A fresh and exciting new voice in Italian crime fiction. Keep the translations coming."-Booklist

It is 1946. De Luca suffers from insomnia and has lost his appetite. He's got problems with women and a case that he can't crack. In this second installment of the heralded De Luca trilogy, the Commissario is posing as a certain Giovanni Morandi to avoid reprisals for the role he played during the fascist dictatorship. Exposed by a member of the partisan police, De Luca is forced to investigate a series of brutal murders, becoming a reluctant player in Italy's postwar power struggle.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Europa Editions (May 1 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933372273
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933372273
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 14.2 x 20.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 136 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #510,125 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Set in 1946, Lucarelli's taut middle volume of his De Luca trilogy (after Carte Blanche) finds Commissario De Luca, who was a police officer during the Mussolini regime, in a perilous position. Under an assumed name, De Luca is just trying to survive any way he can when a member of the Partisan Police catches him in the woods outside Ravenna and drags him into an investigation of a triple homicide. Despite his instincts for self-preservation, De Luca can't refrain from making observations that display his professional expertise. When he's seduced by the local strongman's girlfriend, De Luca finds himself further at risk. While many authors have written of the conflicts faced by honest police officers in Nazi Germany, few American readers will be familiar with the aftermath of WWII in Italy, and Lucarelli excels at portraying fear and suspicion in a country struggling to recover from its national trauma. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The second in the De Luca Trilogy to appear in the U.S. is set in 1946 and finds the former Commisario De Luca dodging partisan reprisals for the role he played as a member of the secret police under Mussolini. When he's recognized by a partisan in an isolated village between Bologna and Rome, De Luca--torn between the need to keep a low profile and the inevitable curiosity he feels in the face of an unsolved crime--reluctantly agrees to help investigate a double murder with political implications. The moral ambiguity at the heart of Italy's postwar power struggle permeates the action in this tense, atmospheric tale. The hero's own ambiguity about his actions during the war, as well as his cynical view of the postwar world, links him to other ideologically imperiled investigators (Arkady Renko in Martin Cruz Smith's Moscow-set series, for example), but the most notable aspect of this trilogy is Lucarelli's ability to give texture to a particular historical moment. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I dreamed one man stood against a thousand Dec 21 2007
By Leonard Fleisig - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
One man damned as a wrongheaded fool.
One year and another he walked the streets,
And a thousand shrugs and hoots
Met him in the shoulders and mouths he passed."

Carl Sandburg.

At the conclusion of Carlo Lucarelli's "Carte Blanche" in the spring of 1945, the fascist government of Italy had just collapsed and Commissario (Investigator) De Luca, like many officials of all stripes tarred with the brush of employment by the regime, was last seen fleeing for parts unknown. Volume II of Lucarelli's De Luca Trilogy, "The Damned Season", finds Commissario De Luca in hiding, using a false identity, wandering through the towns and villages of northern Italy just trying to get by and avoid arrest by former partisans now in control of large areas of Italy. As luck would have it, De Luca stumbles into a village in which a triple homicide has just been committed. As fate would have it the partisan police officer tasked with investigating the murders recognizes De Luca and makes De Luca an offer he can't refuse, help me solve the murder and I will preserve you new identity or get arrested and executed. De Luca accepts the offer not just because of his strong desire for self-preservation but his almost compulsive desire to actually do what a detective does best - solve crimes.

The plot is not complex and although interesting not the main reason why this book was worth reading. As drawn by Lucarelli, De Luca is a pretty compelling figure. As noted in a Preface to the book the character of De Luca was formed after Lucarelli interviewed a police officer whose career spanned most of the middle years of the 20th-century. (The preface actually does a great job in setting up the essential character of De Luca and should not be overlooked.) He is neither a hero nor an antihero. He seems to want to be nothing more than to be a detective yet at the same time he cannot quite convince even himself that his brief stint in Mussolini's secret police did not stain his career. He may assert that he'd never tortured anyone and left the secret police as soon as he could but he knows that in post-war Italy any connection to the former regime are enough to doom him. Still, he manages to put all this aside and proceeds to help untangle the web of political, cultural and other intrigues that led to a brutal series of murder. This is what he does best and so solving crimes is what he will do even if he risks exposure and death.

Lucarelli's ability to recreate an atmosphere of Italy on the edge of chaos and anarchy in the post-war period brings "Damned Season" to life. I got a real sense of time and place while reading "Damned Season" just as I did in reading "Carte Blanche". Apart from De Luca, Lucarelli does not invest a lot of time in presenting us with a full-blown character analysis of the key parties to the crime and its aftermath. We also don't get a lot of the internal life of De Luca but De Luca's actions tend to speak for themselves and over the course of this second volume you begin to get a feel for his personality without having had Lucarelli spell it out for me. On the downside, Lucarelli doesn't invest a lot of time on his secondary characters so there is something of a disconnect between our perception of De Luca based on a pretty good sense of the character and the remaining characters who do come across sometimes as more of stick-figures rather than flesh and blood characters. However, Lucarelli's fast-paced sense of action and the very convincing portrait he draws of post-war life in northern Italy more than makes up for these deficiencies.

"The Damned Season" was a good sequel to "Carte Blanche". The third and final volume (Via delle Oche) is, apparently, due out soon. I've read and enjoyed Volumes One and Two and look forward to the conclusion. L. Fleisig
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Murder in Italy's postwar twilight zone Nov. 16 2008
By Blue in Washington - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"The Damned Season" is Carlo Lucarelli's second short mystery novel in the Commissario de Luca series. It has been well reviewed by Amazon readers already, but I will add my admiration for Lucarelli's taut writing style and ability to deliver an engaging narrative from page one. This is a masterful writer at work and well worth the reader's time.
Don't overlook the other two titles in the series -- "Carte Blanche" and "Via delle Oche."
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great, short read Nov. 16 2008
By A. F. Martel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you want uplifting stories with a happy ending , go elsewhere.
But if you want an engrossing story that will show you a very different view of Italy than Salvo Montalbano, read this.
This is Italy at the bitter end of World War II. And if the book is disjointed, confused and cynical, so was that period in Italy. The "good guys" mostly win at the end. Trouble is figuring out if they are "good".
3.0 out of 5 stars A Notable Improvement Over Carte Blanche Oct. 10 2011
By Dash Manchette - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Carlo Lucarelli started his De Luca trilogy off with a whimper. CARTE BLANCHE was a meandering mess, with far too many characters thrown into too small of a plot. The books have been of interest primarily because of their setting, the fascist and post-fascist period of Italy in the 1940s. But in the first book, politics were so central that one not already familiar with specifics of that time would have a hard go at it. I mentioned in my review that CARTE BLANCHE has the lowest rating on amazon and so I was not ready to give up on the books then.

Good thing I did not, because this second book in the trilogy, THE DAMNED SEASON, is a notable improvement. De Luca is back, this time on the lam as old fascists are being hunted down and killed for, well, for being fascists. De Luca is not political, though. He was, and is, just a cop and he answered to whatever power was in charge that gave the orders. A cop is a cop.

In this second book, the crime is more straight-forward, which works much better for a mere 100 pages or so. Politics play a role, but do not overwhelm and subsume the story. De Luca is picked up by a country cop investigating the murder of an entire family. The townsfolk are in fear of one nasty local thug, and the only girl in sight is so bitter, angry and hostile that one might prefer the firing squad. But a cop is a cop and there is a mass murder to solve.

Clues come together, and a good thing for De Luca. The local constable knows who De Luca is and, if results are not forthcoming from solving the murder, the local can get brownie points for turning De Luca in and letting the local communists take care of him. The interplay between the characters here is much better than in CARTE BLANCHE, no doubt because there just are not as many of them.

I read THE DAMNED SEASON with trepidation. After reading it though, I look forward to the third and final book, VIA DELLE OCHO, with anticipation.
5.0 out of 5 stars The "Coming Asunder" of The Commissario Jan. 25 2010
By fred vallongo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The first volume in Carlo Lucarelli's saga of Commissario De Luca, "Carte Blanche," began with an explosion. This, "The Damned Season," the second installment begins with De Luca contemplating an exposed land mine, as he flees the vengeful victors in Northern Italy.

His reverie is interrupted by a local policeman who recognizes him, confiscates his forged papers, but offers to help De Luca in exchange for his assistance in solving a particularly horrendous crime: the murder of four people and their dog.

Much like the fascist authorities in "Carte Blanche," the cop, Brigadier Leonardi, is eager to solve the crime. Where they sought to force De Luca to focus on a particular suspect, Leonardi tries to divert him from focusing on a rather obvious suspect.

The obvious suspect is a hero (if a particularly brutal one) and leader of the local partisan resistance. Popular sentiment regards this man, named Carnera, as uncorruptible. After De Luca is seduced by Carnera's mistress, Carnera, unaware of the Commissario;s true identity, promises De Luca that he will kill him.

The stage is thus set, an apolitical cop who served the fascist state, in pursuit of a brutal, homicidal communist hero, who may(or may not) have wiped out the four murder victims for motives that aren't entirely clear.

What was the cost of vengeance taking, by all sides, during and after the war, on the social order? If the crime is solved will Leonardi keep his promise? If not, what will become of Commissario De Luca?

All of these questions--or almost all of them--are answered in this stylish novella.
The answers; however, may bring scant comfort to De Luca, or the reader. The reader, at least, will be eager for more.

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