European crime fiction in the crosshairs
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Le imperfezioni*
Valerio Varesi

Frassinelli, 2007, 276 pages

Simona Mammano
Translation: Cristina Johnston

 

Varesi's novels have one characteristic that makes them immediately recognisable: their atmosphere. An intense atmosphere in a broad sense, be it that of the Lombardy plains with their mist and mystery, or the atmosphere of the soul, introspection and the constant search for the minotaur which lurks in each of us, in the labyrinth of our minds.

Varesi's latest novel, Le Imperfezioni (Imperfections), which has just arrived in bookshops, tells the tale of Fernando Savani, a journalist who has to follow several investigations simultaneously. The first of these concerns the suicide of a renowned entrepreneur, a great art lover, who seems not to have had any reason to take his own life. Savani's editor instructs him to weave his way into the life of the dead man in order to unearth the most intimate aspects of his existence. At the same time, something happens to Savani that brings him into contact with a hidden part of himself that he didn't think existed: his wallet is stolen in a bar that only had one other customer. The thief stays calmly seated at the bar, watching him with the confidence of a man who knows he has encountered a loser. The journalist does not manage to get out of the situation, he knows that he should confront the thief to ask him to return his wallet, but he remains paralysed by a feeling of inadequacy, unable to react. In this way, Savani realises that he is not capable of facing a world that requires nerve and cynicism. As he proceeds with his investigations into the death of the entrepreneur, he realises just how like him he feels. He understands ever more the reasons that drove him to suicide and the feelings he must have experienced with the realisation that he lived in a society whose twisted ethics he did not share. Savani also talks to Salvatore Giarrantana, an inspector at police HQ, and together they analyse the last minutes of the entrepreneur's life, looking for a motive that, as time goes on, they begin to perceive. The journalist does not want to reveal this intimate part of the dead man's life, to offer up on a plate to public curiosity the intimate details he has uncovered and shares.

This is a thought-provoking novel, it forces us to choose sides. Do we prefer to give in to a world that demands a strong dose of cynicism or to adapt to it?

Valerio Varesi has been translated into German, Spanish, and Turkish.

* Imperfections


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