BITTER REMEDY, by Conor Fitzgerald

5/series, with irascible, bull-headed Commissario Alec Blume. Estranged from work, girlfriend Caterina, and new daughter, Blume has signed on for a course in healing through flowers. The course is cancelled at the last minute and Blume, with nothing else to do but return to his disastrous apartment on the edge of Rome, stays. A Romanian lap dancer has vanished; Blume's landlady is a feisty 90+ year old countess, the flower expert is a slightly flaky but very pretty girl whose father saves Blume when he accidentally ingests some toxic seeds. Click below for more...
The pretty girl has an older more-or-less fiance, the operator of a seedy nightclub employing trafficked sex workers, whom Blume instantly despises. With less than his usual reason, Blume decides to solve an ancient murder. The present disappearance of the Romanian girl - whose life story is told in detailed flashbacks - is horrifying and heart-rending. Blume, by now taking handfuls of potent prescription drugs, is a walking pharmacological time bomb. The climax is satisfyingly awful. This series needs to be read in order. It's a 4.
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