River of Shadows: A Commissario Soneri Mystery
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River of Shadows: A Commissario Soneri Mystery (Commissario Soneri #4)

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3.28 of 5 stars 3.28  ·  rating details  ·  127 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Introducing Commissario Soneri and shortlisted for the C.W.A. International Dagger, River of Shadows is a brooding, visceral crime novel packed with atmosphere and tension.
A relentless deluge lashes the Po Valley, and the river itself swells beyond its limits. A barge breaks free of its moorings and drifts erratically downstream; when finally it runs aground its seasoned...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published September 1st 2011 by Maclehose Press Quercus (first published 2003)
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Andrew
This first novel featuring Commissario Soneri & his colleagues & nymphomaniac lover,Angela is quite exceptional in such a crowded field as Italian detective fiction. The quality of the plotting & the style of Varesi's writing is only matched, in my opinion, by Michael Dibdin in his Aurelio Zen novels (alas, no more to come!). Donna Leon's Commissario Brunetti,alas - bland, sexless paterfamilias - pales in comparison.
Varesi sets his characters firmly, if foggily, in the central Italia...more
Mikee
A wonderful, powerful book about life and death along the Po, and memories that never fade. I await more books from this author.
Hersilia Press
The book is set in the plains of the River Po in the area of Parma during a bitter (or a normal?) winter and it is the first investigation of Commissario Soneri. The two Tonna brothers disappear in close succession: one actually goes missing, the other falls out of a window.

In a land where the wounds of the second world war are still fresh for many and the fights between fascists and partisans seem to have transcended the generations involved, it is reasonable to suppose that these grudges are o...more
Karen
My pencilled list of things to expect from Italian Crime Fiction isn't particularly long or even all that surprising. A certain, shall we say obsession, with food; an eccentric, slightly grumpy, protagonist who spends a lot of time in his own head and seems to be quite happy there; and the occasional unexpected interpersonal relationship. That's a tick in boxes for RIVER OF SHADOWS then. Set on the banks of the River Po in Parma during a long cold, wet winter where the best everyone can hope for...more
Desiree
This Italian detective novel is set in the Po valley. The protagonist is a bit of a loner (commissario Soneri) who is a lot on location and doesn't care much about keeping in contact with his station.
As in most detectives that are set in Italy there is quite a bit of rivalry between the police and carabinieri.

The story is set against the backdrop of the ever rising Po which gives the story an extra exciting dimension.

One of the recurring themes in the book are the meals the commissario is eating...more
Celia
This series is new to me. The main character, Commisario Soneri, is a Maigret-type detective in a modern setting. Two brothers, former Fascists, are killed on the same day, and the Commisario discovers that the war between the partisans and the Fascisti is still being carried on by old men 50 years after World War II. Maigret-like, Soneri haunts a stretch of the Po River, talking, asking questions, eating, and drinking, until he finally understands what led to the murders and who the killer is....more
Becky
The first book that I'v eread by Varesi, and I found it genuinely interesting. The story ties a contemporary modern double murder to atrocities and resentments from the past and draws the two threads together nicely. The depictions of the Po floodplain, an area of Italy that I've never visited, are hauntingly beautiful at times. Also rather marvelous are the descriptions of food that litter the novel. My main issue with the book is that I fould some of the writing, and the converations between c...more
Greg
River of Shadows is the first in a series of detective novels set in Italy’s Po Valley. The novel begins with the Po River in flood and a barge floating down the torrent out of control. When the barge is finally brought to rest, its owner has disappeared. That same day, his brother falls from a window in a local hospital.

Commissario Soneri pushes to have these two seemingly unrelated cases investigated, against his superiors' wishes. He heads to the Po, giving priority to the bargeman’s baffling...more
Italo Italophiles
River of Shadows is the first book in a police-procedural series set in the Po River Valley of Northern Italy, featuring the senior police officer Commissario Soneri. The book is translated from the original Italian. River of Shadows is slow-moving, atmospheric about the Po River area, and with an eye more in the past than in Italy's present-day.

Third-person limited narration puts us in the head of Commissario Soneri, which is not necessarily a nice place to be. He is a difficult character: rude...more
Sian Wadey
I had great problems connecting with this book. It took me forever to read and normally I whip through murder mysteries with no problem but it wasn't the case for this one.
The pace was ridiculously slow, maybe it's the relaxed Italian culture, but it dragged along. The book couldn't hold my attention either, I would find my mind drifting off and thinking about other things only to find I hadn't taken in any of the story.
The main character, I think his name was Soneri, was generally likeable. He...more
Joyce Lagow
Most Americans who know anything about World War II are aware of at least the broad outlines of the war in Italy: the American invasion, the rise of the partisans, the fall of Mussolini, his re--establishment by the Germans and his final "disposition" by the partisans after the Germans were pushed out of Italy. But what most--and I include myself--don't really think about is that the partisan fighting really amounted to a civil war; there were plenty of people who still believed in Fascism for o...more
Kathleen Jones
This novel is set on the foggy plain of the Po, and the river is rising after intense rain - the wide, placid summer river becoming a winter monster of churning currents and relentless spread. In the darkness, a barge casts off from its mooring mysteriously on the flood tide and no one knows if the owner, Tonna, is on board. At the same time there's an apparent suicide leap from the window of a local hospital.

Commissario Soneri is called in to investigate. He finds himself unraveling a nightmare...more
GONZA
Bello, il commissario Soneri mi piace sempre di piú, peccato non averne altri dei suoi libri qui a disposizione, anzi credo che trovarne uno nella biblioteca di Berlino sia stato un vero colpo di fortuna. Con quel suo fare indolente e quel trovarsi spesso nella nebbia, sia in senso metaforico che reale, credo che l'autore abbia veramente azzeccato il personaggio a cui non ho potuto fare a meno di affezionarmi, peccato per Angela, che non mi piace per niente, ma magari sono solo gelosa.


The Crime Scene Scene
The River of Shadows is the fourth book in the Commissario Soneri series by author Valerio Varesi although it is the first to be translated into English. Decima Tonna's body has been found badly beaten after he jumped through a hospital window. The police initially believe it to be suicide, however, when his estranged brother, a bargeman, is found to be missing and his barge left to float down a flooded River Po, Soneri believes it to be murder and as he investigates he is drawn into a world of...more
Gillian Wheeldon
Perhaps it would be ok if raced through at one
sitting but a little bit every night and the odd tube journey seemed to take weeks and still only 50% through so I am abandoning it here.
Igor Clark
Like Fred Vargas's Adamsberg, but about half as good. No, wait - 20% as good. Repetitive language & motifs, presumably (on a charitable interpretation) supposed to be evocative of the river and its ebbs and flows, are insufficiently fluid and just don't work. Characters are wooden and painfully obviously serve single purposes. Milestones in the story are revealed again as though tide marks in the retreating flood, which could be an OK, if simplistic, device - but it's executed so ham-fistedl...more
Princessofwails
Good to read in a heatwave, as book is set in weather of unremitting gloom: rain, rain, rain! Beautifully dark, as history has a long reach
Aoife
Excellent translation from the original Italian. This was a joy to read, atmospheric. You feel the cold oppressive mist, the sparseness of the lives of the characters. I also liked that there was little of the battling with superiors that features quite strongly in some other italian detective series. The story was strong with no turn around reveal ending. Instead the story gently builds and you can see where the protagonist is going. There is good characterisation and a wonderfully told story....more
Karschtl
Entweder ich war nicht in der richtigen Stimmung, oder aber das Buch liegt mir nicht. So richtigen Gefallen konnte ich an der Geschichte nicht finden und es fehlte die Spannung. Es gibt zwar immer wieder kleinere Puzzleteile, die der Commissario entdeckt, aber es fehlt die schlüssige Erklärung für die Leser wieso das Puzzle nun gerade so und nicht ganz anders zusammengesetzt werden muss und wieso einige Teile zu einem ganz anderen Puzzle gehören...
Richtig auf die Nerven ging mir zudem noch die F...more
Richard
A little too long but the complex plot keeps one intrigued to reach the conclusion. Very atmospheric. Great opening chapter.
Struggle to relate to Soneri in the way that Donna Leon enables one to empathise with her Commissario Brunetti and Soneri's partner is difficult to accept. However, other characters are sketched out well and are full of life.
Matthew Ogborn
Rarely give five stars but this book sang gloriously to me on so many different levels. My love of Italy helps, but Varesi paints such a captivating enigmatic tale in such a wonderfully atmospheric setting that you would be hard pressed not to agree. The ending is simply one of the most evocative that I have ever read.
Chris Galle
The book did't come up fully to the expectations created by the promotional text. I'd have like to read more about Italy's 'dark past'. Yet the author almost reaches perfection when he evokates the chilly atmosphere of the Po valley in times of flood. A book with the feel of autumn!
Cathie
I didn't enjoy this as much as I'd hoped to. The Commissario seemed to work slowly on gut feel, and the pace was difficult to get to grips with. Not sure I'll try another.
Sadie
Quite good, very atmospheric. Some of the characters seemed a little too like Andrea Camilleri's to be an accident. Overall a good story tough.
Michael
Not quite Montalbano but a pretty good read. I will now get away from the ice and fog of the Po back to the warmth of Sicily and Vigata.
Tom
Feb 17, 2014 Tom marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: v, italy
Comm. Soneri
Beth
Beth marked it as to-read
Aug 23, 2014
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Schaduwrivier - Valerio Varesi 1 2 Jun 28, 2014 10:41PM  
The Dark Valley Il commissario Soneri e la mano di Dio È solo l'inizio, commissario Soneri La casa del comandante Il rivoluzionario

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“All that remained for him was the Po, his landscape, the mist and that little corner of his past which opened up inside the doors of Il Sordo (a local bar).” 0 likes
“...curiosity had the same impact on him as caffeine... (Commissario Soneri)” 0 likes
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