Good Reading : February 2017
GOOD READING FEBRUARY 2017 25 COVER STORY DANGERS He laughed and said I would definitely be robbed and quite possibly killed. He laughed and said I would definitely and shades, I pictured the bars bristling with military uniforms, the streets filled with military vehicles and the soldiers whistling at the local signorinas. But the atmosphere would be tense beneath the veneer of friendliness – the vanquished face to face with the victors. When the war in Europe ended in May 1945, Italy was in chaos. It had been occupied first by German troops, then by the Allied Army. The country had been a savage battleground and Naples, in particular, as a strategic port, had taken a hammering from Allied bombs. Much of the city was in ruins, and families and homes were shattered. No jobs, no infrastructure, no food, and decent women were reduced to selling themselves to the military in exchange for food to put on the table for their children. When people are desperate they resort to crime. Law and order had broken down amid the chaos, although the military struggled to impose their authority on the city. I was lucky to stumble across the brilliant memoir of a British Intelligence army officer, Norman Lewis, which he wrote during the occupation of Naples. It painted a heart-rending picture of the despair of its inhabitants. He also described the Allied Army’s fraught relationship with the inhabitants of the area and the search for the lost treasures that had been looted from the museums and palaces; both play a central role in the fictional story of my protagonist, Caterina Lombardi. The devastation that was Naples in 1945 is the truth that underlies her story. But there was another element within Naples that made it a far more dangerous place than elsewhere. And that was the Mafia of Naples, the Camorra. They were the criminal bosses of the city and anyone who dared to oppose them ended up in the Bay of Naples with a set of chains around their ankles. This is the violent underbelly of the city that Caterina has to confront. I hired a guide to drive me the half-hour Naples has ancient tunnels the way other cities have rats.
December 2016 - January 2017