Friday, July 15, 2011
Friday's Forgotten or Overlooked Books: Inspector Anders and the Blood Vendetta by Marshall Browne
It's Friday again, time for Forgotten or Overlooked books - the weekly meme hosted by Patti Abbott at her blog, PATTINASE. Please check in over there to see what other books other bloggers are posting about. Link here.
I've written about the author Marshall Browne before, he's an Australian writer whose work I really admire and enjoy. Unfortunately, his latest books are not readily available in this country so you sort of have to read him hit or miss. Occasionally you might find his latest book on the secondary market.
INSPECTOR ANDERS AND THE BLOOD VENDETTA (2006) is the third in the Anders series following the first: THE WOODEN LEG OF INSPECTOR ANDERS and second: INSPECTOR ANDERS AND THE SHIP OF FOOLS.
Anders is a 51 year old Italian police inspector - a terrorist expert - who was terribly wounded in a bomb explosion, years ago, an incident which took his leg off at the knee. (Can't remember if it's the left or the right.) He wears a prosthesis - the Mark IV - after having gone through the previous Marks I - III which he keeps lined up in a row in a closet at home. Anders has a wry way of always referring to his 'leg' by its current title. He is acclimated to this injury and appears to harbor no bitterness. It also doesn't seem to hinder his success with the women in his life - Anders has a way of falling for almost all the women he meets. But he's the type who can't seem to settle for just one, though he longs for permanence and the stable life of family. I suppose many men long for this sort of thing but just can't figure out way to make it happen. The longing is at odds with their basic personalities.
After having dealt the Mafia a grievous blow in the first book (he blew up a room full of Mafiosi in Sicily), he is, naturally, on their hit list and had been living out of the country until forced to return to Italy for this current crisis. The minute he sets foot in Milan, men from the South are sent North to hunt him down. But it's a chance that Anders must take.
The Prime Minister himself wants the famed 'terrorist hunter' on the case when Right Wing government ministers start turning up dead leaving the nation in an uproar. All the victims were killed in the same way with the same 'calling card' left at the scene of each crime: a card with a picture of a raven on it.
The government would love it to be the work of ubiquitous 'terrorists' - the usual suspects. But the brilliant Anders is not so sure. With a body guard in tow and only his own wits and sixth sense to help keep him alive, the perpetually brooding Anders must deal with incompetence and chicanery at every turn, even among the very people who are supposed to be working with him to solve the murders.
While on the case, risking life and his one remaining limb, Anders is also putting the finishing touches on his magnum opus: the biography of his ancestor, the 19th century romantic poet, Anton Anders. The manuscript is one he's been preoccupied with on and off for several years. The poet is a man Inspector Anders has always regarded as a hero because of his work and because of a certain duel back in 1875. Obviously Anders cannot afford a distraction at the moment, but he hopes to 'kill' two birds with one stone while in Italy - his small publisher is housed near Milan.
As the murders continue, all with raven calling cards left at the scene, Anders turns up evidence that the downfall of a large accounting firm with tentacles all over the E.U. is somehow involved. The entire case reeks of corruption. Anders, though, thinks the crimes are of a more personal nature, possibly stemming from the initial corruption; a young couple, an accountant and his fiancee, had gone missing several years before, their whereabouts unknown, their bodies never found.
In the meantime, the men from the South make their presence known by attempts on Anders' life, one which grievously wounds his bodyguard, Matucci, an old acquaintance from a previous case. The wary Anders is left with a Carabinieri as bodyguard, a man he doesn't completely trust, but with whom he must work in the last days of the case as they narrow down the hunt for a killer with a mania for ravens.
Anders is a bloodhound following the scent until the bitter end. In the great scheme of things, he is a cop, a pragmatist who, despite the corruption around him, continues moving forward. When he gets to brooding in the dark of the unfriendly night, he thinks he'd rather be writing poetry or sitting in a cafe with a beautiful woman at his side studying the sunset - but then, in the light of day, there's always the next case, the next national emergency.