The second disappearance of Aldo Moro by Timothy Williams
Left-wing terrorists kidnapped Aldo Moro in Rome on 16 March 1978. Fifty-five days later, on 9 May, his lifeless body was found abandoned in a Renault 4 hatchback in the heart of the city. He had been murdered, shot in the lungs with a Walther PPK and a Škorpion vz. 61
Moro had earned the enmity of the Red Brigades because he espoused the convergence of the right and the Communist left, the converging parallels that would have allowed the Italian Communist Party to enter government along with Moro’s ruling Christian Democrats.
In my novel, Converging Parallels, at the same time that all Italy is looking for the kidnapped minister, far from Rome, in a provincial city along the Po Valley, Commissario Trotti’s goddaughter is kidnapped. Despite the obvious parallel between the worst crisis of post-war Italy and the personal crisis in Piero’s private and professional life, the Italian publishers decided to remove from their translation all reference to Moro, his politics, his kidnapping and his murder.
Thus Converging Parallels which had been published in England in 1982 appeared two years later in Italy with the bland title ‘The policeman is alone’.
What a thrill, thirty-four years later, to discover that the pulp Italian edition, despite the political censorship, had been a source of joy for a young Italian reader, still in high school, repeating his year and by no means enamoured of literature, crime or otherwise.
“I have never forgotten the title: ‘The Policeman is Alone’, written by a certain Timothy Williams, whose original English title was Converging Parallels. Finally here was something that really attracted me, as the translation had set the detective story in Italy. Indeed, it was an American crime novel served with Italian sauce, as the author himself points out. He narrates the deeds of a commissario in the questura of an unspecified town in northern Italy, Piero Trotti, in search of his goddaughter who has disappeared without a trace. Williams presents real life characters that could easily be your next door neighbours.
“But there is something else: there is a red Citroen DS. ”
I who had lived in Italy through some of the worst ‘years of lead’ (an Italian expression for the years of violence) was upset that Mondadori should remove references and insights that could have made an otherwise run of the mill crime novel into something more insightful and honest for an Italian readership.
For thirty-four years I was convinced Il poliziotto è solo was a dull book. Perhaps it was, but not for a young Italian who even today recalls the joy it gave him.
The six Trotti novels are published by Soho Press and on sale in the UK.
For more about Timothy, visit: https://thecra.co.uk/find-an-author/williams-timothy/