THE WOODEN LEG OF INSPECTOR ANDERS by Marshall Browne
Thomas Dunne, St. Martin's Minotaur, 1999
Inspector Anders seems like the perfect man to complete the investigation of a southern Italian crime. He is a hero having lost a leg in Italy's battle against the Red Brigade, but he is also nearing retirement--unlikely to rock the boat. And rocking the boat is the last thing the establishment wants. It is much better to imagine that anarchists murdered the former judge than to admit that the Mafia and corruption rule southern Italy and can reach its power to the capitol in Rome and beyond. Anders is mostly content to go along--but he toys with the idea of doing more: of making a real investigation. If he does, though, he is unlikely to survive long enough to tell his story, let alone make a difference. The next inspector is unlikely to be so foolish.
As Anders goes through the motions of an investigation, he grows increasingly angry with the power of the Mafia, but also increasingly certain that he cannot make a difference. Yet even going through the motions can be dangerous and letting himself be swayed by the late judge's beautiful widow is clearly a mistake.
Author Marchall Browne writes a compelling adventure. Anders, with his wooden leg and perchant for older soft-bodied women and fine wine, makes an interesting and sympathetic hero. Browne's view of the Mafia as the dominant force in much of southern Italy is sadly credible and Ander's ultimate decision between pursuing his life's dream and doing something, however pointless, to damage the Mafia is emotionally satisfying.
I look forward to reading more novels by this talented author.
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