After reading this blog (via theproglady) I remembered on of the books that blogger ate!
It was The Day of the Owl by Leonardo Sciascia (1961).
I loved this book, and not just because it is a sexy NYBR edition, with an excellent and curiously tender intro by George Scialabba, but because I love a good, weird crime story. I chose this one from a few other possible NYRB splurges at the Strand because I have never read any Italian crime fiction. Somehow in my mind wanting to read this got linked up with my enjoyment of Magritte novels and Murakami (!) and seemed like a better and better way to spend my money.
Luckily I was right. The story concerns a murder, obviously a mob murder, in a small town in Sicily. When a Northern Italian police investigator (I still don’t really understand the Italian police rankings) is sent down to solve the crime, he finds that the people of the town don’t seem to want the rime solved.
While TDTO spends a lot of time remarking on the character of Southern Italians, and their insistence on the nonexistence of the mob, the main draw of the story for me was reading about the town- the food, the conveyances, the clothes, the habits of the police and townspeople. I also liked how when Sciascia has members of the mob in conversation about “business” there is no attribution; as the dialogue goes on personalities are revealed. Because these are shadow personalities in a way (everyone knows who is in the mob, but no one speaks about it), this was an amazingly effective way to tell without telling and ratchet up the tension at the same time.
So, 54 then.