The Damned Season is the second volume in Carlo Lucarelli’s De Luca Trilogy. Set in the summer of 1945 in the aftermath of the end of fascism and Italy’s defeat in the war, De Luca is on the run. As a policeman who has served under Mussolini’s regime he is travelling under a false identity. However, he is recognised by a member of the new partisan police and is forced to help in the investigation of a multiple murder involving the local gangleader, in order to protect his identity. Of course, the case turns out to be mired in the local post-war politics, reprisals and the struggle for advantage and power.
This short volume may be a police procedural, but it continues the central theme and questions of the first book. De Luca is a policeman, not a fascist, destined to serve justice under whatever government is ruling. As such De Luca must always tread a fine line, constantly trying to outmanoeuvre both the crooks and the political masters. For ultimately Lucarelli asks how one can champion justice in a society that lacks it? Or how can a man of justice operate under political masters who have nothing but contempt for justice? These are big questions and, whilst the distance of time may provide some objectivity, they are not questions that have gone away. A great piece of Italian noir that is easily and best read in a single sitting.