Condorena offers a review of one of my favorite books. Marshall Browne wrote two books featuring Inspector Anders, an unusual detective. This really is an outstanding book and, regrettably, there are only two in the series. Condorena’s review should encourage visitors to the blog to find this book which was published in 2001. Libraries are probably the most likely place to find this book and the sequel, INSPECTOR ANDERS AND THE SHIP OF FOOLS.
Inspector Anders had been retired from the Rome police for several years when they asked him to return to the force to help clear up some historic cold cases. He was a decorated national hero who had been instrumental in bringing down an anarchist group ten years before. It was during this effort that he lost his leg as well as his desire to be a policeman.
Now Inspector Anders has been sent from the ministry in Rome to a southern city because a few months before the Ministry’s agent, Investigating Magistrate Fabri and his two bodyguards had been blown to pieces while sitting in a piazza café. Fabri had been sent to investigate the assassination of Judge De Angelis. The judge had been presiding over a case of local corruption that involved many powerful local people.
The Commissioner of Police in this southern city cannot understand why he was sent an aging policeman of no particular rank and who additionally was disabled. Anders himself is not sure why he was chosen for this commission. But locally the ripples were already being felt and almost immediately another undercover cop from Rome is killed. This death is being publicized as that of a policeman dying heroically in the line of duty. This is the story that has been agreed upon by the powers that be in the city.
As a matter of fact all three of these recent death of public figures of in the city have been ascribed to anarchists. Anders is well aware of the fact that most if not all of the groups of anarchists that had Italy terrorized at one time were either disbanded or deep underground. He knows that the real people involved in these crimes are involved with a different criminal society, one that has been the power behind the scenes for decades in southern cities. It seems to appear that the main governing principle in keeping the criminals in charge of the city is one of fear. Everyone who dares to stand up for the ideal of a free society places his own life as well of those of his family at risk. The methods used in the murders of any one who would rock the boat are brutal and sadistic, the screams of the victims such that they are heard in one-way or another in all corners of the city. The populace knows that even an innocent gesture or look may bring down danger.
“ The detective said with a sudden intense bitterness ‘The question is- will truth and justice ever be stronger than the mafia, than the politicians, the bureaucrat in their pockets? Are good men going to be endlessly slaughtered like sacrificial lambs?’
The author points out:
‘Bitter experience showed that in their sad country, whistle blowers rarely achieved anything other than their own destruction.’
Anders quotes from Andre de Chenier of two hundred years before :”Before the Terror worthy men retreat/ Kindness dies, and virtues grow discrete.”
What Anders is beginning to suspect is that there maybe a case of dishonor among thieves. Things that don’t add up one-way make sense if there is a renegade faction in the mafia who are bringing more attention on themselves by some of these deaths. But in any case can one man, or even groups of people together fight such insidious, widespread and deeply entrenched corruption.
In this excellent novel by Marshall Broome you will find a beautiful recounting of the classic paradox of what happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object. One realizes that if there is such a thing as an immovable object there cannot be an unstoppable force. Both cannot be true at once. In this particular story one is given hope that evil cannot triumph forever, there will be forces of good. Broome tells the tale with a rapid pace, the suspense building to the point that you are gripping the book with both hands. Everything that happens has such a sense of reality that my sense of disbelief is completely shut down. There is an intense feeling of the despair for the characters in this city but where there is life there is hope. I am really looking forward to the next Inspector Anders book INSPECTOR ANDERS AND THE SHIP OF FOOLS.
Broome is a native Australian but he has convinced me he has an Italian soul. The series of books is very short but the debut was fantastic.
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