Title: The Murdered Banker (Commissario De Vincenzi #1)
Author: Augusto De Angelis (translated by Jill Foulston)
Genre: Fiction (mystery/crime)
Release Date: 23rd February, 2016 (first published in 1935)
“A body is discovered in a Milan apartment, and Inspector De Vincenzi investigates. The apartment happens to belong to and old university friend of his, Aurigi. When the body turns out to be that of Aurigi’s banker, and a phial of prussic acid is discovered in the bathroom, suspicion falls on the apartment’s owner, and De Vincenzi is agonisingly torn between his sense of duty and his loyalty to an old comrade…
This intensely dramatic mystery from the father of the Italian crime novel, Augusto de Angelis, is the first to feature his most famous creation–Inspector De Vincenzi.” (Pushkin Press)
Although I’ve been reading crime thrillers and mysteries for a couple of years now, I still consider myself fairly new to the genre. I haven’t read any of the authors who would be considered “masters” of the genre, and to be honest I’m not likely to do so any time soon. The crime novels I have read so far have been quite long, with cases drawn out over weeks and months, with plenty of character building and clues placed throughout that I swear the detective wouldn’t notice unless the author made them do so, they are that obscure.
So it was a breath of fresh air to read a crime novel that was short and, more to the point, actually about the crime. All events in The Murdered Banker take place over the period of one night and day (and only 160 pages), making it lightning quick to read and not bulked out by days of pondering and pottering about by the lead detective. If you prefer plenty of character building, then this is probably not the book for you.
That’s not to say we don’t get to know the main character at all. At heart he’s a poet; as a detective he respects the boundaries of the law, but isn’t afraid to push them to get to the truth; he also has the ability to see beyond the obvious and doesn’t simply go with the first solution that presents itself. He gets the job done and is respected for how he does it.
This really was an old fashioned ‘whodunnit’ with only a few key characters, most of them under suspicion for the perpetration of the crime, and all with a motive. The clues provided weren’t beyond the reach of mere mortals, but weren’t exactly obvious either – I saw some but not others, just enough for me to attempt to piece things together for myself. The fact that there wasn’t loads of plot helped me piece things together without having to wade through a bunch of irrelevant information.
If you’re after a quick bit of crime fiction that will get your brain cogs working but without the frustration of having to wait hundreds of pages to learn who the killer is, then The Murdered Banker is just what you need. In this case, a quick mystery is a good mystery.