Monday, March 10, 2014

Review: "To Each His Own" by Leonardo Sciascia

If you are looking for a different kind of mafia or crime novel, Leonardo Sciascia is really the place to look. The late author specialized in the kinds of existential noir tales that the novel, To Each His Own, is categorized as. It a short, terse brutal tale of the way crime not only kills people physically, but really dehumanizes those who stand up to it and those who are victimized by it. It is a very horrifying world to live in, the loneliness and isolation of the title soaking in on every page. The only issue I really take with this book is its focus on philosophy over intrigue, much in the same way that characterizes the work of Raymond Chandler. This book, as well as most of Sciascia’s novels is remembered more for it’s existential and political themes rather than unique plots. The setup is beyond simple; a philandering pharmacist along with his friend, are killed while on a hunting trip. The police quickly hinge the motive on a jealous lover, and even more quickly, let the case go cold. The only person with doubts is a lowly, mediocre schoolteacher, who was once friends with the victim, sees a clue that the police didn’t spot. More through arrogance than through any sense of justice, he figures out that the real target of the crime was the pharmacist’s friend, but not before a tragic set of circumstances lead the teacher toward a grim end. This is a quick novel, too quick, I might add, with a swift, very foolish decision being made that leads to the horribly downbeat ending, that left me a bit shaken, and to be honest, hurt. But that was the goal of Sciascia’s fiction, to show the destruction of hope that comes from living under the iron boot of organized crime.

Rating: 4/5

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