Review: “The Night of the Moths,” Riccardo Bruni

Pros: Great characters; interesting mystery
Cons: A bit slow at times; some confusion as to time/PoV
Rating: 4 out of 5

Riccardo Bruni’s mystery/suspense The Night of the Moths is translated to English from the original Italian, and the story takes place in a small Italian town. A young woman named Alice was killed after walking away from her boyfriend, and her father has killed a “Half-Wit” who had been stalking her. The boyfriend, Enrico, leaves town and doesn’t come back–until now, ten years later, when he wants to sell his family’s old vacation home. Now he finds evidence that all was not as it seemed ten years ago, and perhaps the sequence of events wasn’t so straightforward.

There are portions of the story that are narrated by dead Alice. I think I liked those the most just because she has an interesting stream-of-consciousness style and ruminates on things in a way that could be slow but ends up holding my interest. Unfortunately the point of view and tense (present-day mystery versus past events) shifts get a bit confusing.

The characters help to make up for the confusion. In particular I love a security guard who’s a bit too obsessed with the Die Hard movies and who ends up helping in unexpected ways. The characters have nice depth to them, lending true mystery to some of the past actions. The pacing also draws out the mystery nicely, adding important details at regular intervals and ratcheting up the tension toward the end.

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