I have to thank its translator, Andrew Edwards, for introducing me to this book, the second entry in Italica Press’ Italian Crime Writers series. Agony was originally published in 1897, and is described here as the first Sicilian detective procedural.
October 1894, Lake Geneva: the beautiful Countess Fiorenza d’Arda has been found dead. To the examining magistrate, François Ferpierre, it appears clear that the Countess shot herself. But poet Robert Vérod takes one look at the body and cries murder, accusing the Countess’s lover Prince Alexi Zakunin – an exiled Russian revolutionary – of being complicit.
An initial round of interviews yields contradictory accounts that bear further investigation. Ferpierre looks into other sources, including the Countess’s diary. His ideas about what happened and why evolve as he goes. Agony‘s investigation is like a dance, going back and forth between different possibilities. I found the book highly intriguing, and I’m glad to have read it.