Review of The Second Life of Inspector Canessa by Roberto Perrone

A wild ride of a thriller, with a few minor flaws…

Pushkin Press has made a bit of a business translating foreign-language mysteries into English and I tend to enjoy reading mysteries written from an international point of view.   So I was happy to receive an advance reading copy of The Second Life of Inspector Canessa, which is a noir-ish thriller set in modern-day Italy, but with lots of flashbacks to Italy’s terrorist problems during its “Years of Lead” in the latter half of the 20th century.    

I am not a fan of books that start out bouncing around amongst a bunch of prologue-style vignettes, where we don’t really know what is going on.  And so I almost faltered and didn’t finish this book.   But I am glad I persisted, because maybe 10 or 15 percent of the way in, it felt as if the author suddenly changed gears, the storyline became more coherent, and I found myself, almost without realizing it, immersed in the story.   And that story turned out to be a nice blend of thriller-ish action (guns, fast cars, safe houses) and solid investigative work (tracking down clues in a newspaper’s archives, tracing a victim’s daily route to work looking for clues).    

The main protagonist, Inspector Canessa of the title, is a satisfying hero.  He has a rather violent past as a hero of the anti-terrorism efforts during the Years of Lead, although we do find out that even then, not everything was quite as it seemed.   He has since left the Carabinieri, and after attending university, is now working with his aunt in her seaside restaurant, when he finds out about the assassination of his estranged brother.  And that brother has been murdered in a way which leaves clues linking the murder to Canessa’s own past.   So thus begins Canessa’s second life…     

In addition to liking Inspector Canessa, I also especially liked Perrone’s characterizations of some of the truculent citizens who stymy various government officials and Italy’s notorious bureaucracy, such as the widow who lives across the street (you’ll know who I mean when you get there).   Sadly, however, I was less fond of what I saw as a lot of gratuitous sex in the story.    I don’t mind having some sex in a story if it furthers the story line, or if it helps develop a character, but I felt this went well beyond that.   I even found myself skipping forward in some places, much as I do in a romance novel, when I feel as if the sex is getting in the way of the story.   YMMV, of course!

All-in-all, I would have given this book five stars, if it weren’t for the slow start, and the gratuitous sex, which bumped it down to a four star read for me.  Four stars is a solid recommendation from me, though, since I save five stars for maybe one in thirty or forty books that I read.   And I will happily read more books from Roberto Perrone, if Pushkin Press translates more – I just may start 10% of the way in, and skip the sex scenes…

Oh yeah, and my thanks again to Pushkin Press and Edelweiss for the advance reading copy.

Note: this title is coming soon (Jan 5, 2021 in the US and Canada), but is already out in some other parts of the world. Buy: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon Canada | Kobo US | Kobo UK | Kobo Canada

1 thought on “Review of The Second Life of Inspector Canessa by Roberto Perrone”

  1. A collection of French Noir titles by Frédéric Dard, translated/e-published by Pushkin Vertigo, is on sale for $2.99 in the US. The titles in the collection are: Bird in a Cage , Crush, The Executioner Weeps, and The Gravedigger’s Bread. I haven’t read any of these – they look a little more noir-ish than I generally like, even though I’m usually a sucker for books set in France. But I’ve liked several other titles that have been translated/e-published by Pushkin Vertigo, so I would expect these to be pretty good.
    Kindle US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0951MZXR4/
    Kobo US: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/authentic-french-noir-1

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