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The Wooden Leg of Inspector Anders Paperback – July 11, 2002

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Editorial Reviews Review

Penzler Pick, April 2001: Mystery debuts don't come much better than this, and Marshall Browne's Australian crime-writing peers evidently agree: in 2000 this Melbourne writer was presented with the Ned Kelly Award for Best First Crime Novel published down under. What makes Browne's achievement fascinating is the fact that the book's setting is Italy and its title character, the fatalistic one-legged policeman, Anders, is that rarest of creatures: a man willing to confront the Mafia in the dark heart of its own lair.

Inspector D.P. Anders is a much-decorated Roman cop poised on the brink of retirement; when we meet him, he is newly arrived in an unnamed southern city. He has been dispatched there to make a report on a peculiarly Italian set of circumstances: a magistrate investigating the assassination of an anti-Mafia judge has himself been brutally slain. But the coils of interlinked and complicit corruption that Anders encounters will surprise only the reader (though, of course, not those familiar with Michael Dibdin's equally elegant Aurelio Zen series).

A wounded veteran of his country's perpetual and deadly internal war zone, Inspector Anders had lost his leg in an explosion set by left-wing terrorists nearly two decades earlier. Now he travels with a spare artificial limb, a prosthesis that will play an important role in the high-voltage climax but which for most of the book occupies our attention mainly when he unstraps it to get into bed (and not always alone).

Simply written but to gorgeous effect, Browne's prose makes palpable the "atmosphere of demons barely held at bay," which Inspector Anders perceives as the sinister miasma over the city of his final assignment. Meanwhile, just about every official contact he pursues puts him face-to-face with yet another bureaucrat or churchman tightly in the absolute grip of that "vast black shadow" that dictates their civic treachery and binds them to evil. The Wooden Leg of Inspector Anders straps us into a truly hair-raising ride that nonetheless has the feel of a classic hero's journey. --Otto Penzler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

This dazzling mystery debut, which won Australia's Ned Kelly Award for best first crime novel in 1999, should win an admiring audience here as well. Corruption in an unnamed southern Italian city is endemic and expected. Mafia control is strong; politicians and bureaucrats are weak and corrupt; and the anarchists who fought fanatically in the '70s exist mainly as scapegoats for Mafia violence. The assassination of an unimportant judge who veered from the path of compliance raises no alarms, but when someone (surprisingly) blows up the investigating magistrate sent to gloss over the crime, Inspector Anders of the Rome Police takes charge. A one-time hero who lost a leg in 1982 breaking up a leftist terrorist group and now semi-retired, Anders thinks this will be his last assignment. He has a short list of people to interview no need even to take notes. He could write the report he intends to write without speaking to a soul. But as Anders quietly goes about his task in a city that reeks equally of sewage and corruption, subtle shifts occur. Starting out as a competent, wearily philosophical man earnestly looking forward to retirement, he becomes tempted to strike a blow for justice. Browne skillfully and convincingly charts his hero's conversion to a seemingly hopeless cause. The author's Italian setting is a cesspool of despair and evil with only a small flame of hope flickering. Readers will root for Inspector Anders to return to nurture that flame. (May 14)Forecast: With a blurb from Laurie R. King and good word of mouth, Browne should develop a following especially if he delivers a sequel the equal to this one.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (July 11, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312291493
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312291495
  • Product Dimensions: 4.9 x 0.6 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,673,384 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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See all 7 customer reviews
I look forward to reading more novels by this talented author.
The prose style is distinctive and evocative; and the characters are all cleverly depicted, eventhough Marshall Browne is very economical is his descriptions of them.
THE WOODEN LEG OF INSPECTOR ANDERS is an insightful entertaining look at Italy through a police investigation.
Harriet Klausner

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By taking a rest HALL OF FAME on June 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
For any who enjoy great writing of any genre there is a new Author that is deserving of your attention and praise. Marshall Browne has made his debut with, "The Wooden Leg Of Inspector Anders". And Happily like Michael Dibdin and his, "Aurelio Zen" series, Mr. Browne has already begun on a second installment of his Italian inspector.
As I read his book Michael Browne reminded me of Michael Dibdin, John Le Carre, and the Author of, "A Small Death In Lisbon", Robert Wilson. Mr. Browne is an elegant and articulate writer. He writes at a contemplative cadence and avoids all manner of cliché. The latter is no small achievement as this is a story about the Mafia, and many great writers have tried their hand with this topic.
His writing pays attention to detail of the important sort, the ingredients of a certain native dish, rather than running on for pages with car chases, bomb making, or obligatory James Bond love disinterests. He writes with an authenticity that deserves notation for he lives in Australia, which is not exactly Sicily. And while any Author can visit that which he writes about, very few are able to place on paper their thoughts however worthy they might be.
Mr. Browne laces his work with historical fact that adds credibility and authenticity. He does not use it for a storyline he cannot create himself, or for details he does not know. This man is the genuine article, and if he can continue to write at the level he has set with this debut, he will become a writer of note, and share company with the legends in this genre.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By tregatt on July 21, 2001
Format: Hardcover
With only one month to go before he officially retires, Inspector Anders of the Rome Police force, is not expected to create waves when he is sent to the South to investigate the assassination of Magistrate Fabri, who had himself been investigating the murder of Judge de Angelis. The official story is that both men had been killed by some new anarchist group. Will Anders endorse this politically accepted view, or is he a wildcard, with his own private agenda? This is the question that preoccupies the principal characters in this small unnamed southern city in "The Wooden Leg Of Inspector Anders."
Used to, by now, with the many compromises that one must make with the overwhelming corruption that one sees everywhere in order to survive, Anders is keen to have this investigation over and done with. He knows that both men were definitely not killed by a terrorist group, but rather by the Mafia; and that probably everyone at city hall, and the police, is in on the cover-up. However he feels no overwhelming need to rock the boat. And then he interviews the widow of Judge de Angelis. De Angelis had been investigating an insurance scam and the powerful players who seemed to be in on the scam. Almost certainly the Mafia had had a finger or two in this scam, and de Angelis was committed to discovering the wrongdoers and forcing them to face justice, when his armoured car was blown up. The manner of his assassination had all the hallmarks of a terrorist attack. De Angelis's widow, however refuses to accept this official and convenient view, insisting that the Mafia had her husband silenced because he dared to go up against them. And she desperately needs someone she can trust to play the role of avenging knight. Could Anders be the man she is looking for?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By booksforabuck VINE VOICE on May 17, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Inspector Anders seems like the perfect man to complete the investigation of a southern Italian crime. He is a hero having lost a leg in Italy's battle against the Red Brigade, but he is also nearing retirement--unlikely to rock the boat. And rocking the boat is the last thing the establishment wants. It is much better to imagine that anarchists murdered the former judge than to admit that the Mafia and corruption rule southern Italy and can reach its power to the capitol in Rome and beyond. Anders is mostly content to go along--but he toys with the idea of doing more: of making a real investigation. If he does, though, he is unlikely to survive long enough to tell his story, let alone make a difference. The next inspector is unlikely to be so foolish.
As Anders goes through the motions of an investigation, he grows increasingly angry with the power of the Mafia, but also increasingly certain that he cannot make a difference. Yet even going through the motions can be dangerous and letting himself be swayed by the late judge's beautiful widow is clearly a mistake.
Author Marchall Browne writes a compelling adventure. Anders, with his wooden leg and perchant for older soft-bodied women and fine wine, makes an interesting and sympathetic hero. Browne's view of the Mafia as the dominant force in much of southern Italy is sadly credible and Ander's ultimate decision between pursuing his life's dream and doing something, however pointless, to damage the Mafia is emotionally satisfying.
I look forward to reading more novels by this talented author.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. Wheeler on April 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Inspector Anders has a mission. And it's not to grapple with the Mafia. It's to retire and write a book about his underappreciated poet forbear, Anton Anders.
Sent by Rome to investigate the murders of an investigator and a magistrate, he intends to do as little as possible and then go home. What difference will it make anyway? Nothing will change and a real investigation will only get him dead. But he can't help it. He just has to side with the good guys against the philistines. How can you help but like and respect and cheer for this guy?
Next time, how about a collaboration? Anders meets Zen!
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