Ancestral cradle and crossroads of civilizations, Sicily is an island of serene quietude and rough violence, of courage and connivance, of tradition and nonconformity, of immigration and emigration, of welcome and mistrust. In The Transaction, Guglielmo D'Izzia captures the island's self-contradictions and ambiguities as only an expatriate Sicilian can do. The novel traces the external and internal journey of an impenetrable and unsympathetic northern Italian who, in order to finance a property deal, travels from Milan to Sicily's hinterland with a luggage of antisouthern prejudice. This physically brave but morally weak protagonist, identified only by the last name of De Angelis, turns from businessman to occasional detective but, as in Leonardo Sciascia, it is the investigator who ends up being suspected rather than the murderer.

D'Izzia sets his remarkable debut novel in the fictional town of Figallia, an archetype of the dark side of southern Italian small-town life where...

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