Wonderfully evocative, THE DISAPPEARANCE OF SIGNORA GIULIA imparts much information about the society in which it is set in a short, but beautifully balanced novel.
When Signora Giulia goes missing, police detective Sciancalepre follows the investigation with dogged determination over a number of years. For much of this time it seems that the Signora has simply vanished into thin air. No body is found, nor are there sightings of her that lead to more than new questions. Coming from a small village as they all do, there is however, much gossip about her taciturn, older lawyer husband; about her marriage; and the possibility that she had a much younger lover.
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF SIGNORA GIULIA is a fascinating book - immersed as it is in the place from which it comes, it gives the reader a feeling of being in somewhere completely different, despite it being translated for accessibility. Sciancalepre is somebody that you feel that you'd know if were to come across him in a little cafe, the same with the Signora's husband and his eventual estrangement from his daughter, and the way that he withdraws from his life with his wife, leaving their shared home is quite moving. The way that he starts to appear quietly in the night in the garden of that house, only to be seen by his daughter and new son-in-law is restrained in the telling, but moving nonetheless. Obviously this is a man who is hiding something - but is he the killer of his wife, or does he still mourn for her?
As well as those character study elements, there's a nicely twisting plot here with lots of possible answers to the fate of Signora Giula, some of which the reader will guess, some of which will come as a surprise. Combine that with the perfect ending for this style of novel (and one most definitely not for fans of absolutes) THE DISAPPEARANCE OF SIGNORA GIULIA is a taste of Italy, granted without the elaborate food descriptions of more well known series, but with everything else you could possibly ask for.