Authors: Marco Vichi
Tags: #Mystery: Thriller - Inspector - Flood - Florence Italy
|Marco Vichi - Inspector Bordelli 04 - Death in Florence|
|Inspector Bordelli |
|Hodder Stoughton (2009)|
|Tags:||Mystery: Thriller - Inspector - Flood - Florence Italy|
Mystery: Thriller - Inspector - Flood - Florence Italyttt
Table of Contents
Death in August
Death and the Olive Grove
Death in Sardinia
Marco Vichi was born in Florence in 1957. The author of twelve novels and two collections of short stories, he has also edited crime anthologies, written screenplays, music lyrics and for radio, written for Italian newspapers and magazines, and collaborated on and directed various projects for humanitarian causes.
There are five novels and two short stories featuring Inspector Bordelli.
Death in Sardinia
was shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association International Dagger 2013 in the UK, and
Death in Florence
Morte a Firenze
) won the Scerbanenco, Rieti, Camaiore and Azzeccagarbugli prizes in Italy. Marco Vichi lives in the Chianti region of Tuscany.
You can find out more at
Stephen Sartarelli is an award-winning translator. He is also the author of three books of poetry. He lives in France.
First published in Great Britain in 2013 by Hodder & Stoughton
An Hachette UK company
Copyright © Ugo Guanda Editore, S.p.A., Parma 2009
Translation copyright © Stephen Sartarelli 2013
The right of Marco Vichi to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.
A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the British Library
Ebook ISBN 9781444712315
Hardback ISBN 9781444712292
Hodder & Stoughton Ltd
338 Euston Road
London NW1 3BH
‘What about Christ?’ my mother asked. ‘He saved us from corruption.’
‘He died for no reason,’ I said. ‘His sacrifice didn’t change anything. The good save themselves, but nothing can be done for the wicked. And man is wicked.’
Still half asleep, he reached out with one hand, seeking Elvira’s warm body, but encountered only coarse linen sheets. Then he remembered that she was gone. He rolled on to his back and stared into the darkness. Another woman had entered his life and then left in a hurry, like a bullet through flesh. Perhaps the right woman for him would not be born for another hundred years, or else she was born a long time ago and had already lived and died. Whatever the case, they would never meet.
Every time he found himself alone again, an unknown world appeared before him, in need of rebuilding. It was a little like being reborn, and he felt a new freedom slithering under the malaise …
What time was it? He glanced at the shutters and saw no light filtering through the slats. He felt like a wreck. The hope that the little boy would be found alive was growing slimmer by the day. Little Giacomo had vanished into nothingness five days ago. Just turned thirteen, chestnut hair, brown eyes, four foot eleven. An untroubled boy, studious and obedient. But what if he’d only run away from home? It’s normal to do silly things at age thirteen …
He would have given anything for this to be the case, but he didn’t believe it for a second. He talked about it often with Piras, his young right-hand man, but even he was pessimistic. They hadn’t made any progress at all, hadn’t the slightest lead to go on …
The ring of the doorbell gave him a start, and then he remembered Botta. It was Monday. His ex-con friend had wheedled him into promising to take him mushroom-hunting in the hills, at Poggio alla Croce. It was the right moment, Botta said. After many days of rain, there’d been a bit of sunshine and temperatures had gone up. Monday was an excellent day for it, since there wouldn’t be any little families about on country outings, and very few hunters. Bordelli wasn’t so crazy about mushrooms; he didn’t know the first thing about them and had never gone looking for them. But a walk in the woods would do him good. Worrying about the boy was wearing him out.
He rolled out of bed and looked out of the window, feeling the cool air on his face. The sky was still dark, and he could barely make out a shadow on the pavement below.
‘Ennio, is that you?’ he called softly.
‘No, it’s the tooth fairy.’
‘Come on up and have some coffee.’
Closing the window without making too much noise, he went and opened the door in his bare feet. Then he quickly slipped on a pair of trousers and washed his face with cold water to wake himself up. When Botta saw him in his vest, he threw up his hands.
‘Don’t tell me you were sleeping, Inspector … It’s already half past five …’
‘Put the coffee on, I’ll be there in a minute.’
He finished getting dressed, took a pair of old hiking boots out of the wardrobe and rejoined Botta in the kitchen. They gulped down their coffee and went out. In the silence of the San Frediano quarter, Bordelli’s VW Beetle made an infernal racket.
They pulled out into Piazza Tasso and turned left. Viale Petrarca was deserted under the black sky. When they got to Porta Romana, they turned on to Viale di Poggio Imperiale. Climbing uphill, the Beetle roared like a tank.
‘Promise me one thing, Ennio.’
‘Let’s hear it …’
‘Promise you won’t cry if we don’t find any mushrooms.’
‘That’s not possible, Inspector. We’ll find so many that we’ll have to leave a lot of them behind.’
‘What makes you so sure?’
‘You just do your job, which you do well … but don’t bother with things you know nothing about.’
‘I wish I were as much of an optimist as you.’
He was thinking about the missing boy, feeling almost guilty for wasting time hunting for mushrooms. But what else could he do? Sit in his office chewing his nails while looking at photos of little Giacomo? What good would that do?
‘We’ll have to arrange a dinner of porcini dishes,’ Botta said with self-assurance. The inspector didn’t reply. At that moment he had no desire for dinners with friends. First he had to find Giacomo Pellissari. But for now he had to stop thinking about him. His brain needed a rest. Going round in circles was more tiring than chasing prey.
They pulled up at Poggio alla Croce with their headlights still on and parked in a clearing of wet grass. Dawn was approaching. Bordelli put on his boots and they began to climb the slope in the cold morning air. The path was steep and full of rocks and mud. Botta trudged on with his basket swaying by his side. After just a minute of this, they were both panting heavily, steam rising from their mouths.
Beyond the hills the sky was turning greenish, and the birds of the forest began to go crazy. A thin layer of fog that smelled of rotten leaves hung stagnant in the air. In the half-light Bordelli saw a thin spider’s web glistening with tiny dewdrops, and he remembered a morning in ’44. He was returning from patrol with six men of his platoon, and he’d seen some droplets just like these, gleaming in the darkness along a wire as thin as a hair stretching between two trees. But it wasn’t a spider’s web. If torn, that string would trigger a ‘ballerina’ mine, a bomb which, before exploding, would bounce up in the air to the level of your belly. He’d seen a number of his mates die from those toys, their guts torn out.
‘Over here, Inspector,’ Botta whispered, as if other people might hear him.
Leaving the path, they dived into the woods, clambering up the slope, grabbing on to the slenderest trees. Bordelli looked up at the sky through the boughs of the chestnuts. Watching the day break had always made him feel very sad, for no reason. During the war he’d managed to see the sun rise almost every day, and every time he’d thought it might be the last.
The sky turned violet, then orange, and a few minutes later it was day. Botta studied the ground, occasionally making sudden detours, as though following a non-existent trail. A few wild boar scampered silently away through sheets of fog, towards the hilltop, steam rising from their coats. For someone who went often into the woods, the sight would not have been anything special, but it gave Bordelli a childlike thrill. Only when patrolling the hills had he ever seen wild animals dashing through the trees, and every time he had aimed his machine gun with his heart racing. This time he could enjoy the spectacle.
They continued climbing. Botta refused to slow down, and at times seemed to speed up. The inspector could feel his heart beating fast, and his legs were already tired. The cigarettes and his fifty-six years were making themselves felt. And to think that in the days of the San Marco regiment he was walking up to fifteen miles a day, carrying a full backpack and weapons … But why did he always have to think back on that blasted war? Couldn’t he just enjoy the outing?