The Shape of Water was an interesting book. I think it's the first Italian mystery I've read, and there was a casualness about it that I liked. People and lifestyles, choices and decisions were all just sort of taken at face value. There was no judgement of morality or of right and wrong like there is in a lot of Anglo-American mysteries. Corruption was rampant, sex of all types was no big deal, and the Mafia was giving the carabinieri opportunities to earn their pay. None of this was remarked upon with any particular concern--it was just the way things were. Live and let live, to each his own.
I had some trouble acclimating to this story. At first I wondered if something was lost in the translation. I understood the words in this book, but something still felt "off" to me. Maybe the book was choppy in parts. In one part numerous phone conversations were transcribed, and there was no language used to indicate where one call ended and another began. I got confused here, and never quite regained my full equilibrium after this. The book ended abruptly, too, which further enhanced my vague impression of choppiness. And yet, I knew what was going on in the book. At times I couldn't put it down. No loose ends were left in the story, so why was this book sitting so awkwardly against my brain?
I have finally decided that it is because the book is my first Italian novel--my first Italian mystery! The world as viewed through Italian eyes was different to me. For the first time in a long time I felt like I was visiting another country in my reading. My brain was searching for context, searching for the familiar, only to be reminded that it was a foreigner in the world of this mystery. This was a very standard mystery in a lot of ways. Things made broad sense, but I was aware of not being part of this world, and of not quite understanding the nuances.