Gianrico Carofiglio writes in what can be called the legal thriller genre. An Italian who lives in Bari, on Italy's southeast Adriatic coast, he was aGianrico Carofiglio writes in what can be called the legal thriller genre. An Italian who lives in Bari, on Italy's southeast Adriatic coast, he was a prosecutor in Bari's anti-Mafia section. I've always thought that a book written from that perspective would be fascinating.
In his previous books, the legal aspects have been prominent, and his court scenes have been a significant part of the plot. But his books have always focused on the protagonist, Guido Guerrieri, a defense lawyer in Bari. The plots have been significant but Guerrieri, a moody, somewhat insecure, intensely introspective character, has been equally as important to the story line. In this book however, the plot is very thin--a judge who is an acquaintance of Guido's is accused of corruption and hires Guerrieri for his defense. There is some legal action, and it's interesting, but the story line serves as a framework for what could be called a combination of character study, philosophical treatise on the ethics of the law, reflections on childhood and adolescence, and a very gentle love story. In less skilled hands, this would be a recipe for boredom. But Carofiglio masterfully weaves all these components into a fascinating and thoughtful narrative. He has no lack of a sense of humor and irony, and these traits leaven the story; I laughed out loud at some parts.
One of the most enjoyable experiences of reading Carofiglio is the way he introduces characters that can't even be called minor ones; they appear once in the story for maybe a page, usually less, but are totally entertaining. For example, early on we meet a well-know lawyer who unashamedly visits brothels, choosing them on the basis of a cost-benefit analysis of quality for the price. which is why he was caught up in a police raid, and brought along into the very court where he serves as a defense attorney along with the prostitutes, pimps, and other lowlife characters associated with such places. Is he ashamed? far from it--he actually struts down the hall towards the courtroom. Maybe four paragraphs, but beautifully written in such a way to give life to not only the lawyer but even a narrow slice of what it's like to Iive in Bari (how else do you get to know that there are brothels that are strictly ethnically staffed, such as the Slovak one frequented by this lawyer?). It's fascinating.
At 48, Guido himself is an absorbing character, and his introspection covers an amazing range, from memories of his childhood and adolescence sand their impact on him to agonizing decisions over questions of morality and ethics in the law. He has boxed since youth; part of his charm is that he has a heavy punching bag, Mr. Bag, hanging from the ceiling of his living room (which is otherwise lined with books), in whom he confides his deepest insecurities. Guido does not really change or develop in the normal sense throughout the course of the books; rather, he deepens, and his introspection carries him to different levels of awareness. It is, again, an absorbing journey.
I've read all of his previous books in excellent English translation.s But now I live in Sicily and while I am by no means even nearly fluent in Italian, I can read it with the help of my trusty translator program. I've decided to read mostly in Italian to help improve my ability in the language, so when I ran across this book while browsing in my favorite bookstore, I bought it, thinking that I would combine duty with pleasure. And I was right--it was a pleasure to read. Since even with a translation program I wasn't able to understand all of it ( understood perhaps 95%), guessing at the rest, I intend to buy the book in English translation when it comes out, just to pick up on what I've missed and to see how Carofiglio's human translator handles the story.
This book does not slot easily into any particular genre. At heart, it is the journey of an observant, intelligent, far-from-perfect, likable human being. It's worth reading for that alone. I have a Sicilian friend who wants to read the book; given her political views and the situation in Italy at this moment she will find Guerrieri's observations on the Italian justice system more than intellectually interesting. For those of us used to North American systems, the Italian system is quite different in that there are no jury trials.
Much as I adore the Commissario Montalbano series, this one simply isn't as good as the rest, due to a slow start. The writing is a little flat; whatMuch as I adore the Commissario Montalbano series, this one simply isn't as good as the rest, due to a slow start. The writing is a little flat; what carries the book are the characters whom we've followed now for many years. And even then, there's not enough of Fazio, Gallo, and Catarella.
The only reason I didn't give this sequel to The Cuckoo's Calling 5 stars is that it started out slowly. But did it pick up! J.K. Rowling is a reallyThe only reason I didn't give this sequel to The Cuckoo's Calling 5 stars is that it started out slowly. But did it pick up! J.K. Rowling is a really fine writer and as far as I'm concerned, has proven, with this sequel, that her first venture into the police procedural genre was no fluke. She can write, she can entertain, and this is an excellent entry in the field.
What gives this book an additional edge is that the plot, the murder of an author, is set in the environment of the publishing industry. It's impossible not to wonder how much of the story comes out of Rowling's own experiences in what is acknowledged to be a particularly vicious business.
While reading The Cuckoo's Calling first isn't necessary, it will immensely add to the enjoyment of The Silkworm as it introduces the very odd indeed personality of Cormoran Strike, private detective, and his not-your-usual PA, Robin.
Unfortunately, this never really took off. The characters are good, the writing is good but the narrative dragged. Too bad, because the first book inUnfortunately, this never really took off. The characters are good, the writing is good but the narrative dragged. Too bad, because the first book in the series, The Dogs of Rome, was so promising....more
A surprisingly good police procedural set in contemporary Rome and featuring an American protagonist who grew up in Rome and is almost (but not quite)A surprisingly good police procedural set in contemporary Rome and featuring an American protagonist who grew up in Rome and is almost (but not quite) a native Italian. Alec Blum is a Commissario of police, and is investigating a murder with political implications. The writing is very good, the plotting workmanlike and adequate. There are flashes of humor that are really well done. An excellent debut novel....more
The Saint books, featuring Simon Templar as the leader of a small group of idealistic young people out to see justice done, are classic. Charteris pubThe Saint books, featuring Simon Templar as the leader of a small group of idealistic young people out to see justice done, are classic. Charteris published the first in 1930 and continued for decades; the Saint never lost his popularity. Enter the Saint is one of the first, and shows its age. The language is simply too dated, the style equally so. Unfortunately. Because I remember the Saint from the TV series and loved it. But that, too, was a long time ago.
Read it for historical interest but unfortunately the Saint has aged too much for my current tastes, I'm truly sort to say....more
For fully one-third of this book, I had no idea where the author was taking it, and increasingly, I didn't care. But thanks to a Goodreads friend's urFor fully one-third of this book, I had no idea where the author was taking it, and increasingly, I didn't care. But thanks to a Goodreads friend's urging, I kept on with it--and wound up unable to put it down until I finished it. I suppose the plot. Falls within the thriller genre, but in reality, it is a detailed study of a relatively young couple. Flynn puts the two under a microscope and what emerges are pitiless but fascinating portraits of two not exactly your normal everyday Midwestern man and wife. Nick and Amy are about to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary in North Carthage, Missouri when Amy vanishes. That's the premise--where's Amy and what's happened to her. But what develops is a bizarre tale of two superficially normal people who mutate into not-quite-recognizable individuals.
What makes this book so out-of-the-ordinary is that a) just about every character but in particular Nick and Amy range from unpleasant to downright horrifying. There is no one to love here. I wasn't particularly bothered by this since my view of the human race is so dark that Nick and Amy seem almost benevolent. And b), despicable as the are--and they are--Both Nick and Amy make points about the roles of men and women in marriage. Psychopath she may be, but Amy makes some rock-solid points.
The problem with the book is that first third. While it becomes clear nearly mid-way through that that first third is vital to the plot, frankly it drags, leaving the reader (me) puzzled and increasingly impatient for something, anything to happen. But patience is well rewarded. Still, that glacially moving first third is risky, and for that reason, I rated it four out of five stars.
Not for everyone, but for those with enough determination to stick it out, an excellent, off-beat thriller....more
Silva never fails to satisfy. He writes to a formula but that formula delivers fast-paced, nail-biting action every time. Portrait of a Spy is yet anoSilva never fails to satisfy. He writes to a formula but that formula delivers fast-paced, nail-biting action every time. Portrait of a Spy is yet another example. Excellent writing, outstanding plotting, and a set of recurring characters who are well-defined, believable and ever interesting. Can't ask for better....more
The Shetland Quartet was originally that--four books set in the Shetland Islands with Detective Jimmy Perez as a complex, totally believable and empatThe Shetland Quartet was originally that--four books set in the Shetland Islands with Detective Jimmy Perez as a complex, totally believable and empathetic protagonist. Using the Shetlands brilliantly as a backdrop, the books were excellent, and the quartet ended logically.
Now, three years later, Cleeves has chosen to resume the narrative, always an awkward maneuver in such cases. Cleeves does it better than most, but the narrative is rough in places as she tries to meld the old with the new. This is especially true with the timeline. In addition, there is a little too much explanation at the end, rather than a revelation due to action.
Still, the book is very good, carried along by Cleeves' excellent characterization and outstanding descriptions and use of the Shetland Islands. Her plotting, while still good, is noticeably weaker and the book suffers as a result.
Recommended for fans of the series but with the caution that it will disappoint....more