Maurizio de Giovanni. The Bottom of Your Heart. Inferno for Commissario Ricciardi. Translated from the Italian by Antony Shugaar. New York: Europa Editions, 2015. 464p. ISBN 978-1-60945-293-3. $18. Mystery
In this seventh entry (after By My Hand), de Giovanni riffs with poetic intensity on the vagaries of love, a seed that sprouts at the bottom of the hearts of several characters and that leads to murder. In 1932, ten years into Mussolini's fascist rule, Commissario Ricciardi and his assistant, Brigadier Maione of the Neapolitan police, both struggle with relationships. Maione thinks his wife is having an affair; Ricciardi is torn between his love for a young woman and his fear of passing on his inherited and disturbing ability to hear the last thoughts of murder victims. In the torrid days of mid-July just before the Festival of the Black Madonna, a medical professor has been tossed to his death from a hospital window. Several suspects present themselves to the investigators, most notably the professor’s lover (a former prostitute), a hood angry that his pregnant wife died due to the professor’s negligence, and a retired doctor whose son the professor has more than once maliciously failed. Only a painstaking examination of the lives and loves of these and other characters will lead to the perpetrator. VERDICT Fascinating characters, all leading rich emotional lives, make this an outstanding work of literary fiction that will appeal not only to mystery fans but to all those interested in the many foibles of the human heart.