A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
A man is shot dead in broad daylight while boarding a crowded bus on a busy street. Almost anywhere else in the world it might be an easily investigated crime, but this is Leonardo Sciascia’s Sicily. All the pedestrian witnesses seem to vanish, the passengers on the bus quickly melt into the crowd, the bus driver claims no one was on board, even the street vendor who was mere feet from the murder claims not to have heard gunshots.
The case eventually falls to Captain Bellodi, an outsider from mainland Italy. Backstabbing mafiosos, fascist reactionaries, communist agitators, and corrupt politicians all form a seemingly impenetrable knot around this simple murder. Yet, while all around him seems chaos, Bellodi pursues the case with relentless logic.
Sciascia explores the contrast between Bellodi’s unswerving sense of justice and the labyrinthine code of the Sicilian criminal underworld with a concision and depth that make this a step above most police procedurals. The Day of the Owl might even be my favorite single book in the genre. At 120 pages it’s a quick read, well paced and well plotted. This Italian import should be an interesting contrast for anyone whose gotten caught up in the recent wave of Scandinavian police procedurals.
Review by Matthew