Edmonton writer Caterina Edwards does not disappoint with her newest novel - this literary noir combines all the elements we expect from the genre and this talented and prolific writer: drama, passion and literary sophistication. Who else would be able to smoothly mesh the labyrinthian workings of the Sicilian police force and the mafia with quotes from the 5th c. philosopher Empodocles of Sicily, snippets of Greek mythology and fairy tales rooted in Sicilian culture?
The Sicilian Wife is the tale of two ambitious women, Fulvia Arcuri and Marisa De Luca, separated by an ocean but emotionally and intricately linked by a murder and a lover.
Fulvia Arcuri, is the daughter of a mafia don in Alcamo, Sicily. She escapes to a life of relative normalcy in Canada after a love affair is savagely cut short by her lover's parents who are leery of the boy's association with the Arcuri family.
Almost two decades later, when a burnt body surfaces in Alcamo, Sicily after a horrific car crash, Comissário Marisa De Luca, a police captain recently stationed in Sicily from the north, begins to investigate the true identity of the victim, Samuele Mazzolin - Fulvia's estranged husband - and her investigation leads her to Canada and Fulvia.
The story artfully alternates between Fulvia's repressive and brutal childhood lived in a gilded cage in 1970s Sicily including Fulvia's thwarted attempts at rebellion against her parents and the story then turns to the police investigation conducted by De Luca in the late 1980s conducted in both Sicily and Canada.
De Luca, a tough and resilient police commander, faces an equally hostile atmosphere in her workplace - disrespected by some, stalked and harassed by some unknown assailant who ransacks her home (is it the local mafia don, Fulvia's zio Antonio Arcuri, who fears the direction of her inquiries? Or is it one of her disgruntled, belligerent colleagues who resent her?) - she is both in possible jeopardy and stubbornly unmoving in her
The women are also linked by one of Fulvia's past lovers - the handsome Alex who pursued a different, sometimes troubled, path from his wealthy, overbearing parents. The two college age teenagers - Fulvia and Alex - were passionately involved until his aristocratic family put an end to the relationship and Fulvia fled to Canada. Alex auspiciously crosses paths with Marisa in Rome during the investigation into the death of Mazzolin.
With suggestions that Fulvia's seemingly innocent husband Sam has possible links to the drug trade in Italy, both women in engage in a voyage of discovery that proves fruitful, searing and ultimately dangerous for both.
Sensuous, fast-paced and erudite, The Sicilian Wife satisfies on every level.
You may purchase The Sicilian Wife here. Kindly also take the time to read a review of Ms. Edwards' last book, the memoir Finding Rosa here.