And so to the final volume in Lucarelli’s De Luca Trilogy. Via delle Oche. It is 1948 and De Luca finds himself in Bologna and teams up again with Pugliese to investigate what appears to be a suicide, but which De Luca quickly determines to be murder. The war is now long over, but its legacy is still strong as the Italians prepare for fiercely contested national elections. And as with the other volumes in the trilogy, it is the politics of post-war period that provide the backdrop to the story.
Via delle Oche is the notorious red light of Bologna and it is this murky world, typical of the noir novel, that De Luca and Pugliese enter, as politicians and criminals (often the same) jostle for power in the post-war vacuum, old rivalries between fascists and communists play out and political enemies take revenge on one another. As ever, De Luca attempts to rise above the political maelstrom in the interests of truth and justice, only to find that justice is itself a politically constructed ideal and truth is always to be sacrificed at the altar of political expediency. Time and again, as De Luca faces the obstructions of one political faction after another and his attempts to remain neutral become increasingly difficult, he declares, “I’m not working with anyone. I’m doing my job, which is to investigate a case, and I’m going to keep doing it until I discover who the murderer is!”
This captures the tension that drives the narrative in all three novels – the difficulties of a policeman attempting to serve the principles of justice, when justice itself is open to political interpretation.Via delle Oche is a fitting end to a trilogy of short, yet important, crime novels.