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.