Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge 2010
This book was first published in 1965 and although I enjoyed it,
I don’t think it is anywhere near as good as du Maurier’s earlier work. At 272 pages, it is a very quick read. I must admit that I am not a fast reader as I take the view that as someone has gone to the bother of writing every word, it is only fair that I should read them all and not skim. It is well written and I found that it hadn’t really dated that much.
It is the story of a holiday courier called Armino Fabbio who conducts coach parties of tourists from Genoa to Rome. When a male tourist propositions the young and handsome Armino and slips a 10,000 lire note into his hand, Armino decides to get rid of the money by passing it on to an old lady who is slumped on the cathedral steps.
Unfortunately, she is murdered soon after and Armino decides that the safest thing for him is to get away from the area and he ends up back in the town where he had grown up, having left it as a young boy at the end of the war.
Since then his home town of Ruffano has enlarged due to the local university expanding, with as many as 5,000 students residing there or nearby.
Nobody recognizes the adult Armino and he takes a job in the university library, becoming involved with the students and staff and discovering that there is a disturbing rivalry between the Arts and Economics faculties, creating an atmosphere of menace.
He lives in fear of being traced to Ruffano by the police, especially when he discovers that the murder victim was his childhood nanny.
The book finishes with a spectacular festival which the students take part in and draws to what was for me an unexpected conclusion.
I don’t think I would read this one again though. It’s certainly not in the Rebecca league.