The Few is the first in a mystery series from Nadia Dalbuono that promises to be an excellent procedural series with complex characters and mysteries that explore the politics and corruption of contemporary Italy. Leone Scamarcio is the son of a former mafia leader who was killed about a year or so before the series begins, a killing that splashed Scamarcio’s face and name all over the media. A mafioso’s son becoming a policeman is high drama to the news. This causes him trouble more often than not.
His boss gives him a case involving a young man, a sex worker, who has been murdered. Shortly before his murder, a high-ranking government minister was extorted by photos of him with the murdered man and another young man. The Prime Minister who sounds very much like Berlusconi has requested an investigation. The hope is the murderer can be found before his death is connected to the pictures which are bound to come out soon.
While looking for the second young man in the photos, Scamarcio is told he can find out more if he goes to Elba. So he goes there and discovers a young girl, the daughter of American tourists, is missing. Soon Elba seems like crime central and the local police don’t really appreciate Scamarcio’s help. How what is happening on Elba connects to the murder in Rome is a twisted and complex mystery.
The Few is an excellent mystery and a great foundation for a new series. We have hints of untold or forgotten stories in Scamarcio’s past that must surely be answered in future installments. We have a detective who both methodical, conscientious, and intuitive. He is wary of committing too deeply to a single theory of the crime and casts a wider net than most series detectives. We see him wondering, unsure and trying to choose the next course. However, when his instincts speak, he listens. This makes him better than the average series detective who usually has a narrative and sticks to it.
Italy seems very real in The Few, there is corruption, but there is no stereotypical fatalistic resignation to perpetual corruption. Too often mysteries situated in Italy either ignore or obsess with the infamous mafia. The thing is, except for snatch-and-grabs and murders among friends and family, most crime is organized to some extent. Every country has organized crime and it is usually local to the country. There’s organized crime in Italy, sure, but also in Japan, India, Russia, Sweden, and Vietnam. There is an A to Z of organized crime. It is refreshing to see an Italian-centered mystery dealing with organized crime networks from other countries.
The Few is scrupulously fair in giving us the information when Scamarcio gets it. We have no scenes with him reading a report and thinking, “Aha! That explains it all!” then rushing off with the solution while we are left in the dark. This makes me eager to read more in this series.
I received a copy of The Few from the publisher for review.