Black Run by Antonio Manzini

The newly translated novel by Antonio Manzini, Black Run, is a great mystery that takes place in northern Italy. Manzini is an Italian actor, screenwriter, director, and author. Black Run is the first of two novels that have been translated into English.

Here is a bit about the plot from the publisher:

Getting into serious trouble with the wrong people, deputy prefect of police Rocco Schiavone is exiled to Aosta, a small, touristy alpine town far from his beloved Rome. The sophisticated and crotchety Roman despises mountains, snow, and the provincial locals as much as he disdains his superiors and their petty rules. But he loves solving crimes.

When a mangled body has been discovered on a ski run above Champoluc, Rocco immediately faces his first challenge—identifying the victim, a complex procedure complicated by his ignorance of the customs, dialect, and history of his new home. Proud and undaunted, Rocco makes his way among the ski runs, mountain huts, and aerial tramways, meeting ski instructors, Alpine guides, the hardworking, enigmatic folk of Aosta, and a few beautiful locals eager to give him a warm welcome.

It won’t be easy, this mountain life, especially with a corpse or two in the mix. But then there’s nothing that makes Rocco feel more at home than an investigation.

As with many novelists, especially mystery writers, Manzini has good insight into human behavior. He expresses this insight through Schiavone and his sarcastic wit. Schiavone is a fascinating and conflicting character. He is not easy to like – he is vulgar, smokes pot, and treats most people with contempt. But, he is superb at observing the smallest of details and solving the hardest crimes.

Although Schiavone’s attitude and behavior was a bit off-putting at first, he warms to the reader. Maybe it is his unapologetic acidic temperament or his ability to seek justice in whatever manner fits.

The plot is very engaging and does not give anything away as to who is the real killer. You have some false trails thrown in – Schiavone believing in one of these trails. The reader is kept guessing until the very end.

Excellent first book from Manzini.

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