Daniele Gonella’s “L’amico faithful”

A Renaissance villa and a pair of anti-heroes protagonists of Daniele Gonella’s thriller “L’amico faithful”, available in bookstores and online

What mysteries are hidden behind the majestic gates of Villa Bocchese and in its huge park on the hills, between tree-lined avenues, meadows and shady woods? What happened to the owner, entrepreneur Claudio Bocchese, who left on a business trip and disappeared into thin air? And what about his cat Fijodor, a splendid specimen of Carthusian, with yellow eyes? These are the questions that an improvised and unscrupulous investigator, Leo Rodgher, and an awkward handyman, Boris Castaman, protagonists of Daniele Gonella’s thriller “L’amico faithful” published by Youcanprint, will have to solve.

Daniele Gonella (Trissino, 1984) is a passionate reader of mystery books, who has decided to write one. “The faithful friend” marks, in fact, his debut on the literary scene. The story is set in the present day, in the small world of the Venetian province. Protagonists, two Italian comedy anti-heroes. Leo Rodgher and Boris Castaman, roommates, try to make ends meet. The one, with small assignments as a private investigator. The other with repairs, moves and odd jobs here and there. At the end of the month they find themselves punctually on the bill. So Boris pushes Leo to get busy to find a cat, which has strayed from Villa Bocchese. The owners promised a rich reward to whoever brought it back to them.

The Renaissance villa of the Bocchese family stands on a hill, surrounded by an immense estate of gardens, avenues, meadows and woods. Inside the estate, the ruins of an ancient castle survive, partially destroyed by fire. The wealthy family that resides on the estate has recently made headlines following the disappearance of Claudio Bocchese, head of a small financial empire. The entrepreneur, who suddenly left for a business trip to Germany, disappeared into thin air. His car was found on German soil. However, all traces of him have been lost. The tensions within the family and the significant economic interests at stake led to thinking of a voluntary disappearance. However, Leo Rodgher suspects that things have gone differently who, in an attempt to bring the missing cat back to its rightful owners and to collect the reward, feels “the smell of burning”. So he decides to investigate, his will to him, to see clearly. In the investigations he also involves poor Boris as an infiltrator among the gardeners of the villa. From here a series of daring events start, which will have the mysterious estate as an evocative backdrop and its inhabitants as actors, the authoritative woman Erminia, her daughter Michela, little Niccolò, the slimy lawyer Filiberto Varotto, curator of the family affairs and the service staff. The keystone of the entire narrative construction will be the feline Fijodor, “the faithful friend” to which the title alludes, which will allow the investigators to solve the case.

As in the best tradition of the genre, Gonella builds a detective story in which every smallest detail or seemingly insignificant detail becomes important for the final solution, in a stringent narrative logic. The sober, fluent and at times ironic writing make the reading of this debut novel particularly pleasant and compelling, which reveals the profile of an already mature author and work.

Daniele Gonella’s “L’amico faithful” – Corriere Nazionale is in the bookstore