The one thing Commissario De Luca has learned is that come war, revolution, or other social upheaval, the police force always stays the same. It is a comforting thought for him as he is traveling under an assumed name to protect his identity because he worked for the Fascists during Mussolini's regime. It is August 1945. Japan has just surrendered, the fighting in Italy has been over for several months, and the recriminations against those who sided with the Fascists have begun.
De Luca is on his way from Bologna to Rome when a provincial policeman, Brigadier Leonardi, stops him to check his papers. Recognizing De Luca from before the war, Leonardi presses him into helping solve a series of local crimes that stem from the German occupation and the guerrilla war conducted against the Germans and collaborative Italians by the resistance. Someone appears to be taking advantage of the wartime chaos to reap peacetime rewards. Having worked for the Fascists himself , De Luca is potentially tainted. He must be especially careful to cooperate with the local police as he struggles to extricate himself from the prison of his past.
The Damned Season is the second volume of Lucarelli's celebrated De Luca Trilogy, that also includes Carte Blanche and Via delle Oche. Extremely popular in Italy, the series has made Lucarelli one of the nation's best-loved crime writers.