Bread for the Bastards of Pizzofalcone by Maurizio de Giovanni

6th in the Bastards of Pizzofalcone series, this twisted tale of crime in the sunny port of Naples is filled with humor and pathos as well as plenty of shady characters, quirky cops and a taste of Neapolitan culture and cuisine.

Bread for the Bastards of Pizzofalcone by Maurizio de Giovanni
Europa Editions
Paperback | $23.00
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6th in the “Bastards of Pizzofalcone” series, this entry is fully satisfying and exemplifies the style, quality and impact of the previous works. The author, whose work is ably translated from French writes about Naples and the colorful and often nefarious characters who populate the city on the bay. The “Bastards” of the title are a misfit assemblage of police officers who have been exiled to the Pizzofalcone station in an attempt to sequester them from the main force, a tactic that has failed spectacularly. Rather than simply fading into the mountains of paperwork, cold cases and petty crimes, they have unexpectedly transformed themselves into a cohesive unit that showcases the peculiar talents of each in a delightfully amusing and entertaining way. They get no respect, but they solve crimes brilliantly, especially Lieutenant Lojacono, whose placid, unresponsive manner belies a crafty intelligence constantly working to discover answers to the questions that obsess him.


Here we are introduced to a baker who thinks of himself at “The Prince of Dawn”. He awakes far earlier than anyone else in the district, obtains water from an ancient fountain used by generations of his forbears and prepares the centuries-old mother yeast for the day’s baking. This sacred duty is his by heritage and he takes it very seriously. The bread his ovens produce is unlike any other in the city, and in spite of being more labor-intensive and expensive to produce, people flock to his shop to purchase the heavenly stuff. One morning, though, he is found behind the bakery shot to death with a half-eaten roll in his hand, steps from his place of work. The city’s anti-mafia squad appears suddenly and takes charge of the crime scene. Their leader, an ambitious and arrogant cop is convinced it is a Mafia murder and gallops off to prove the unsubstantiated theory. Lojacono and his cohorts disagree, however, and pursue their own leads at peril of offending officialdom, but are nonetheless dogged in their suit to find the truth.


Replete with broken relationships, filial jealousy, public corruption, impending mortality, heartbreaking betrayal and budding romance, this is a tale that will enrapture any reader of whodunits, but anyone who enjoys a good story and vivid characters will love it. De Giovanni is a veteran of mystery writing who displays his expertise with an ease that makes the narrative flow joyfully and without pause. It is pure pleasure in printed form.