Varesi Casts Long Shadow

September was a big month for international crime fiction, as Commissario Soneri became the lastest suave and taciturn continental detective to be introduced to these shores by MacLehose Press.

Valerio Varesi’s series has already gone down a storm in Italy, where it has been filmed for television, and River of Shadows has been gathering rave reviews in UK broadsheets.

Barry Forshaw in the Independent wondered whether the atmospheric wind-and-rain-swept first chapter could have been ‘the half-remembered opening chapter of a novel by Dickens’. ‘The real coups of River of Shadows‘, he concluded, ‘are twofold: the author’s trenchant analysis of his country’s ignoble past, married to the narrative acumen of a master storyteller’.

Laura Wilson in the Guardian also made the Dickens comparison, and appreciated Varesi’s ‘good line in wry humour’. Rosemary Goring in the Herald found ‘the slow-burn of the storytelling… refreshing’ and

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observed that while Italy may not be the carefree country it sometimes seems to outsiders, ‘the sinister secrets it nurses are fodder for good fiction’.

Luca Barbareschi as Commissario Soneri

And if the Commissario Soneri Investigations take off, given the success of the Swedish Wallander series on BBC Four, it may not be long before the likes of Luca Barbareschi and Natasha Stefanenko, the stars of the Italian Soneri series, are gracing our screens on a Sunday night.


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  1. How infrormative. I wrote a blog post about this novel on 5 September about the opening of this book and comparing it to Dickens, see:

    If memory serves, you picked this up on Twitter at the time.

    And now you refer to an article in the Independent written a month later, making exactly the same comparison.

    And neither you nor the Independent refers to my preview piece .

    My full review of the book is here, by the way:

  2. Hiya Maxine,

    Oh, I’m so sorry! I read a LOT of reviews, and I’d completely forgotten about your earlier piece.

    But you’re right of course: you made the first comparison!

    Thanks for the links…

  3. You’re welcome, and thank you.

  4. A new review of this book has just come out at International Noir Fiction, here:
    It is an excellent review, the best I have read of this novel. Glenn Harper really gets the various essences of this book, I think.

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