I am currently about 5000 words into the new BUSCAFUSCO novella, called Fun & Games. The ideas for the new cases had been laying in the back of my mind for months, and I needed a vacation. I plan to have the story finished soon-ish, other engagements permitting.
Writing to calls from publishers is fun and it’s – hopefully – profitable, but sometimes the constraints are too tight. It’s good to open a file and just let the ideas and dialogues pour out, let well-established characters do their thing, take life and run away with the story. And BUSCAFUSCO’s is one of my favorite in this sense. There is a simple formula, there is a cast of characters I am familiar with and I like to write about, there is the Belbo Valley as a venue, an inexhaustible source of strange ideas and weird crimes.
As usual, in Fun & Games Buscafusco will tackle two cases at the same time, and as usual, while violence will be possible, the crimes being investigated will not be murders, but rather cheaper, more proletarian sort of activities: swindles, blackmail. But this time things will get a little more interesting, for our hero, as the Chinese Triads are likely to show up.
Women & Children took place in the early autumn, and Ghosts & Shadows covered the days between new year’s eve and twelfth night. Fun & Games is set in the early spring – which is quite fitting, considering Saints & Witches (that already came out in Italian, and I am slowly translating) takes place in the summer – and so we have the first four seasons of BUSCAFUSCO.
With a little luck, I’ll have Saints & Witches out in ebook for Christmas – so that I’ll be able to start a second year cycle for 2019.
And as we are at it, here’s how Fun & Games begins:
The Tambora sits like Jabba the Hutt on a crossroads between Nizza and Asti, a former wine depot turned into a nightclub. Fun and games start around seven in the evening, every day, but the spending crowd usually pours in after ten on the weekend. At five in the afternoon of a March Tuesday, there were five girls in sweatshirts and yoga pants sitting in front of one of the three stages, watching in varying degrees of bored resignation as a sixth, wearing a small bikini, rubbed herself up and down a pole.
The Tambora is not a place for foxtrot and big bands, and parties Gatsby-style. It’s a strip joint,and that’s the reason why it’s one of the only two businesses in the valley that does not suffer from the crisis.
Guido Pesce saw me come in, and gestured for me to go to the counter. Then he turned to the dancer. “OK, I got the idea,” he said. “It’s enough. You can go. Make sure you have left your name and a contact.”
Then he turned to the girls waiting. “I’m taking ten minutes. I’ll get you a drink.”
That’s Guido Pesce for you. He likes to play tough guy, but then he’s the sort that buys a drink to the auditioning strippers.
He stepped behind the counter, and started pulling cans of lemonade from the fridge. “I’ve got a problem,” he said.
“And I thought you needed a hand to evaluate the new workforce,” I said.
He grunted. “Lemonade?”
He slid a can on the top of the counter to where I sat, and then took the others, on a tray, to the waiting girls.
“Expanding the business?” I asked.
“One of the girls got married,” he said.
I remembered her. Dark hair, snarky. “Good for her.”
“Yeah, sure. But I need to cover her slots, and fast.” He poured himself a glass of cider. “But it’s not like there’s a shortage of candidates.”
“The University of Eastern Piedmont never fails to deliver,” I said. The lemonade was cold and sour.
He snorted, and shook his head.
“So what’s your problem?” I asked.
He sighed. “Someone’s trying to shut me down.”
Guido Pesce’s operation was a money-making machine, but he was also a decent fellow. And that could be a problem in the increasingly aggressive environment of the Belbo Valley.
“What happened?” I asked.
Well, to know what happened you’ll have to read the book, I guess.