JACKET NOTES: The Inspector. The hatchet man. Ruthless, impersonal, colorless, dreaded. The little group of Communist leaders in the small Italian province awaited his arrival for the town elections in fear.
Comrade Grimello, toothless, nerves shattered, a useless relic of time, drank brandy in the long nights to ease his terror of the expected confrontation with the Inspector. Comrade Laura, her dried-up, hollow chest heaving with resentment and nerves, swiveled her hard-edged, restless body into the alleyways, looking for lovers. It passed the time.
Comrade Zottolo, the intellectual, remained in his house, gulping down pills tossed to him by a sneering housekeeper. Comrade Siero trembled and prepared speeches and hid from his child bride. Whenever the Inspector appeared it meant censure, a shake-up, perhaps ouster from the Party.
The time is 1948, the place a small city in the Po Valley of Italy. "The Inspector" is the story of a man of no feelings, interests or life outside of the Communist Party. He is a hard bitten revolutionary who has climbed the ladder of war and purges to power. Now he finds himself at the age of 35 increasingly disillusioned by the role he must play in the new Communist world of paper and bureaucrats. The man who could have his only friend shot without remorse was cracking over having to cope with anthills of mediocre and anonymous bureaucrats. The coming to this town in the Po Valley was the Inspector's hardest and most crucial test... and he, causing fear in all he met, was a fireball of fear inside himself.
In a spare, searing style, Enzo Bettiza lays bare the whole rickety structure of the Italian Communist Party as they face a period of crisis--a major election.
This bitter appraisal of Communism is based on the personal experience of the author, a well known Italian journalist. "The Inspector" was written when Enzo Bettiza was only 23 and after he had spent a brief but intense period of militant activity in the Italian Communist Party.
In Italy, "The Inspector" has been acclaimed as another "Darkness at Noon".
(© Lyle Stuart, Inc.)