My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The name of the collection which this book belongs to (VerdeNero) is a giveaway of the themes encountered in it: a crime story with the background of a real life tragedy, the collapse of the Val di Stava dam in 1985 in Trentino, near Riva del Garda where the author lives.
PI Butch Moroni, whom we’ve met in Narciso’s Sankhara, is hired to find the whereabouts of a disappeared boy, but soon his investigation brings him to uncover some of the corruption behind the tragedy of Stava and its criminally inept management.
Butch will also meet up with an old flame of his, a very likeable character, whom he still fancies and tries to revive his relationship.
I am a passionate environmentalist so the theme really interested me – and the real story is described with accuracy, sensitiveness and involvement. However, perhaps because of the importance of the real life story which sadly not many people remember, I found the fictional story falling in the background a bit and therefore losing its strength. Perhaps a stronger (or just different) type of link between the two stories would have enriched both, but I realise that this being real, and being in Italy, the possibility of legal action would become high.
Narciso (who also writes as Jack Morisco) is a typical example of Italian gialli writers, with the impegno (socio-political involvement) being a strong theme of the novels. He is also an experienced writer and his writing is fluid and engaging. I found Solo Fango a good read which made me go back and read more about the Stava tragedy. The downside is that stories of this kind make you really discouraged and disheartened about people in general, and about the Italian political class especially. Will things ever change?