Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “River of Shadows: A Commissario Soneri Mystery” as Want to Read:
River of Shadows: A Commissario Soneri Mystery
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

3.35  ·  Rating Details  ·  217 Ratings  ·  32 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
ebook, 272 pages
Published September 1st 2011 by Maclehose Press Quercus (first published 2003)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about River of Shadows, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about River of Shadows

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 413)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Mar 26, 2011 Mikee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: italian-mystery
A wonderful, powerful book about life and death along the Po, and memories that never fade. I await more books from this author.
Jan 26, 2014 Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Sep 17, 2012 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review-books, crime, italy
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
Feb 13, 2014 Desiree rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ilaria Meliconi
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
Oct 17, 2012 Celia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Roger Brunyate
Strong on Atmosphere and History

I was attracted to this by its title, "I was attracted to this by its Italian title, Il fiume delle nebbie or "River of Fogs." Four years ago, I read another Italian book set on the River Po, Gianni Celati's Narratori delle pianure (translated as Voices From The Plains ), and found it immensely evocative of the flat mist-shrouded lands in Northeast Italy. I started to read this one in Italian also, but the vocabulary and dialect of the river boatmen was heavy
May 06, 2015 Becky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Italo Italophiles
Aug 20, 2014 Italo Italophiles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Joyce Lagow
May 16, 2012 Joyce Lagow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 27, 2013 Kathleen Jones rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 17, 2014 GONZA rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biblioteca
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.

Mark Walker
Disappointing. It has some of the standard elements of crime fiction; the loner detective, events from the past, tight knit community. The location is really interesting. But there are a number of problems with this. The characters, even Soneri, are too thinly drawn and don't come to life. His method of investigation seems remarkably casual. The references back to the superiors who constantly wanted to know what Soneri was up to, and were expecting him to be visible and back at his desk - we're ...more
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.
Ann Tonks
Apr 06, 2016 Ann Tonks rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: italy, owned, ww2
Although I don't like the Commissario's relationship, I did find the description of the Po River, the geography, the people, the history, fascinating.
Igor Clark
Oct 22, 2012 Igor Clark rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 14, 2014 Princessofwails rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ashleigh Be
I'm not sure where to begin. I love crime fiction, but had major issues with the way this book was translated. I believe it was over edited. What makes me say that? Can anyone find a semicolon? I can't find a decent complex sentence in the book. I nearly stopped reading this book but didn't want to start my new year with an unfinished novel. I won't recommend it; I wish I understood Italian because I think the book has a great story line, however was lost in translation.
Jul 17, 2012 Aoife rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 28, 2008 Karschtl rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: darkish, bc, read-in-2006
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
Apr 15, 2016 Jack rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I actually read Gold, Frankincense and Dust - but cant find it here !
Sheila Howes
Jul 18, 2015 Sheila Howes rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I struggled through this book. It was longer then it needed to be, and the characters weren't particularly interesting.
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
Jun 23, 2012 Matthew Ogborn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 20, 2012 Chris Galle rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2012
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!
Jul 11, 2013 Cathie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 06, 2013 Sadie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 13 14 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Schaduwrivier - Valerio Varesi 1 2 Jun 28, 2014 10:41PM  
  • Carte Blanche
  • Una brutta faccenda
  • The Paper Moon (Inspector Montalbano, #9)
  • Gently Down the Stream
  • Dear Old Dead (Gregor Demarkian, #9)
  • Ratking (Aurelio Zen, #1)
  • I Will Have Vengeance
  • The Bone is Pointed (Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte, #6)
  • The Winter of the Lions
  • The Abyssinian Proof (Kamil Pasha, #2)
  • Murder at the Savoy (Martin Beck, #6)
  • The Glass Devil (Inspector Huss #4)
  • The Last Man Standing
  • Dog Day (Petra Delicado Mysteries, #2)

Other Books in the Series

Commissario Soneri (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • Ultime notizie di una fuga
  • Bersaglio, l'oblio
  • Il cineclub del mistero
  • L'affittacamere
  • The Dark Valley
  • A mani vuote
  • Oro, incenso e polvere
  • La casa del comandante
  • Il commissario Soneri e la mano di Dio
  • È solo l'inizio, commissario Soneri

Share This Book

“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
More quotes…