Back in September, on one of my few visits this year to a real-life shop selling books, I picked up on a whim “To Each His Own” by Leonardo Sciascia (translated by Adrienne Foulke). I’d previously read one of his stories, way back in 2013, and enjoyed it very much; so I thought it would be worth giving him another try. I *did* enjoy “To Each His Own” but I wasn’t knocked out by it, and I suspect I may not particularly want to read any more of his work.

I confess I found this cover a little unnerving so had to put something over it while I read the book…

Sciascia was Sicilian born and bred, and his books are very much rooted in that Island. During his life he took an active part in Sicilian politics, and those political structures are present in “To Each…” As the book opens, a small town pharmacist Dr. Manno has received an anonymous letter threatening violent revenge. This is a shock, as he appears to be a blameless man, and so he and his local friends ignore the letter. However, the pharmacist and his hunting companion Dr. Roscio are found shot dead the next day, which leads to all manner of local gossip about motives, secret indiscretions and the like – many of which lead to unpleasant consequences for those unfairly drawn into the controversy.

Eventually the gossip and interest in the murder dies down, and the townspeople move on. However, a rather inexperienced local academic, Professor Laurana, is intrigued enough to keep following up clues and digging away at the case. What he begins to discover reveals a rather different situation to what the townspeople believe – but is it sensible for him to keep on with his investigations?

“To Each His Own” certainly has points of interest; as well as being a murder mystery, it takes sharp look at Sicilian society and the political machinations going on behind the scenes. Laurana is a small fish, a quiet country pedagogue who travels to the local county seat to teach; and it is here that he will have a random encounter which will seal his fate. It’s clear that in the Sicily of the time (the book was first published in 1966) it’s best not to meddle. I won’t say any more in case you haven’t read it but the message definitely seems to be that you should leave well alone.

Sciascia’s book is readable and written well, so why my slightly *meh* response to it? It’s hard to pin it down – it didn’t grab me in a big way; the characters weren’t particularly interesting or well-developed; and much of the point of the book seemed to be to allow the author to express his opinions on religion or politics, particularly the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church. I did find the portrayal of women left me pretty uncomfortable too; and I’ve no idea if that was typical of the time, but the sub-plot involving a sexy widow just didn’t grab me at all.

So a book I didn’t hate (I *did* finish it!) but which I really didn’t love. It filled a reading gap but I’m not inspired to go out and read any more of his work – I’ll chalk it up to experience and move on to something else!