vicequestore guarrasi in sicily

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It had been incredibly exhausting to turn off the third alarm clock, which she had deliberately set far from her bed. Her legs felt like concrete blocks, she was dizzy and feared she would not be able to keep her eyes open. Only after the second strong coffee, a shower and a cigarette in the fresh air she felt somewhat better. She was clearly late. As usual, she had to take breakfast from the bar in Santo Stefano. …
“So, kids,” Vanina began, sitting down on the corner of the desk with one buttock and setting down a small tray with a mug that smelled of coffee.
“Let’s recap. Since yesterday we know that we are not dealing with a, shall we say … ordinary case … “

from: Schwarzer Sand
(own translation)

The restless policewoman

Vicequestore Giovanna Guarrasi, called Vanina, but only by friends, is deputy police director and head of the “Crimes against Life and limb” department, a homicide squad. Just 39 years old, she has already come a long way, having been stationed in other regions of Italy, but having finally returned to her native Sicily, Catania and Palermo, recently.

She is unmarried and has no partner … but there used to be someone in the prosecutor’s office whom she left after living together for a few years. Slowly, in the first two novels, it comes to light why the relationship was so critical and what Guarrasi was afraid of. The relationship did end a few years ago – her partner got married and became a father, but already separated again … so the relationship is still there somehow, you meet, you break up again … Other men don’t stand a chance.

Of course, Guarrasi also carries around psychological baggage. Her father was a police officer and was shot in front of her when she was a child. This scene still dominates her, even today. She has also never quite gotten over the fact that her mother remarried rather quickly and she got a stepfather and a half-sister, although there was no reason for an unhappy childhood and youth. In any case, Guarrasi is still at war with her family – a soft war.

It remains to mention that she likes to eat a lot and especially well in restaurants, but of course also resorts to fast food when things get hectic and tight. Fortunately, she has a landlady who likes to cook for her and cooks well. She smokes a lot, really a lot. She drinks a lot of coffee. She loves old Italian films, preferably from the 50s, 60s … years.

When she gets stuck in a case, wants to clarify a certain detail, she sometimes works through the night … She does have a social life… some good friends, but her focus is on her work. In short: she is a workaholic.

Her cases are tricky and she often grinds her teeth, not only her but also her team. Tricky also means that in addition to her own rather large team and the teams from other departments that sometimes want to play along, as well as the legions from forensics and the experts from forensic medicine, the public prosecutor’s office and beyond, many witnesses and potential suspects add arbitrarily to the complexity. In the end, it is always clarified who committed which crime, but until then it is sometimes a hard road – also for the reader if he wants to keep track.

As a deputy police director, she has a certain amount of freedom, so she can also work on a murder case that is over 50 years old. Likewise, she can keep her team busy with a case where the body is missing but everyone assumes that a body is waiting to be found somewhere. Or she investigates bodies from crimes that she believes are connected but were unfortunately found in different districts – with different jurisdictions …

Guarrrasi is always stepping on someone’s toes when she and her team are investigating – whether politicians, business bosses, high-ranking officials in police organisations or wherever. Italian society is notorious for its multiple entanglements and family ties. Sometimes everyone seems to have some skeleton in the closet. Add to that bribery in all walks of life, and the inherent life of business relationships, whether legal or more in the grey area. On top of that, there are the long-established families and their criminal activities, aka organised crime.

Guarrasi can handle anything – at least she takes on anyone and anything.

She is also slowly approaching her goal of taking revenge for her father’s death. His death gnaws at her to this day. She works feverishly to convict the perpetrators of that time – which of course is not so easy. But she has her little successes … even if it takes a long time and organised crime is networked right into the police organisation, so that the perpetrators always seem to be one step ahead. Eventually, she even seems to be caught in the crosshairs of the mafia family involved herself.

Guarrasi has a team she can rely on, even though it becomes clear that they are all just normal people – with all their strengths and weaknesses. She manages to pull everyone along when it comes to solving a case. She gets very special support from a retired colleague who remembers all the cases of the past and is happy to offer advice and help – especially because he seems bored in retirement.

The life of Guarrasi and her team is not spectacular, despite the extraordinary cases, as I have already indicated. In the novels as a whole, there is a vivid impression of the everyday, interesting life that exists around everyone in Sicily. A high-ranking policewoman sometimes doesn’t quite seem to fit in. Guarrasi is not a typical woman, but acts more like a man …

Sicily: il Commissario Montalbano immediately comes to mind, who at least shares Guarrasi’s passion for good food. Guarrasi, however, is much more hectic and agile, which may be due to the fact that she operates in Catania or Palermo, while Montalbano lives and works in a small town on the coast. For the crime scene in Sicily, Guarrasi is an enrichment alongside the very well known Grand Master.

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a faint cold fear thrills through my veins ... william shakespeare