As a reader of mystery books and Italian gialli I have great affection for Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano. But coming in a close second is Vicequestore Rocco Schiavone, the protagonist of a series written by Antonio Manzini. He’s bad-tempered and dour, dabbles in some illegal activities but is a good investigator. He’s imperfect and intelligent. He’s from Rome but has been posted to Aosta as punishment for taking the law into his own hands and beating up the criminal son of a well-connected person. He hates everything in Aosta, the cold, the mountains and the ugly snow boots everyone wears. He smokes weed in his office. He has lovers but is in love with and has long conversations with his wife – who is dead. The stories are gritty and tightly written, often a commentary on contemporary society. They’ve also been adapted into a highly watchable and atmospheric TV series starring Marco Giallini who inhabits the role of Schiavone perfectly.