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The Fatal Touch (Commissario Alec Blume #2)

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  416 Ratings  ·  68 Reviews
Alec Blume returns to action in this intricate and heart-pounding new novel. With the help of his associate Caterina, Blume is called to the scene of a death connected to a spate of muggings. Though the Carabinieri-military police-are trying to control the investigation, Blume, never one to bow to authority, pursues it his own way.

When it becomes clear that the victim is a
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published June 14th 2011 by Bloomsbury USA (first published March 18th 2011)
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Apr 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
The second of the Alec Blume mysteries and very good indeed, lives up to the promise of the first. I am delighted to find this author and am looking forward to more. With its mixture of crime, cynicism and corruption Italy seems to be the perfect venue, in the right hands, for modern police procedurals. And Conor Fitzgerald clearly has the right hands.
Aug 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Alec Blume is an American-born commissioner for the Italian police. The death of what looks to be a town drunk could be a mugging or a homicide. But when it is discovered that the deceased is a famous art forger, the case is mysteriously handed over to a semi-retired former secret service agent, Corporal Farinelli who has a questionable reputation. Blume relies on a new recruit formerly with immigration. Inspector Caterina Mattiola has to prove herself to the men in the department whom she out-r ...more
Rob Kitchin
May 09, 2012 rated it liked it
The Fatal Touch has a lot going for it. It has a strong, intricate plot, with a disparate range of characters and several cleverly interwoven strands. It is clearly based on a lot of research around art forgery and the art world, and procedurally it seems realistic. The narrative is culturally sensitive and portrays a good sense of place with respect to Rome. And it is generally very well written with some lovely prose. The notebooks of Henry Treacy are particularly nicely drafted. Despite all t ...more
Apr 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book and Alec Blume as a character. I have read most of Donna Leon's Inspector Brunetti novels, Camilleri's Montalbano series and other Italian police novels. The Fatal Touch seems fresh and different enough from the others to be entertaining.

As I have found in many books, some of the best humor takes place around the dinner table, and this story continues that trend.

I look forward to reading the first Alec Blume novel, "The Dogs Of Rome"
Jan 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
An elderly man is found dead in a Roman piazza - was it murder? Both Inspector Alec Blume of the police and the Carabinieri are interested in the case because this particular victim was a talented art forger. Fitzgerald leads the reader through an exciting world of art and crime.
Pete Wung
Jan 06, 2012 rated it liked it
It is very difficult to enter into a mystery genre when the marketplace is already filled with others trying to use the same starting point as you are. Colin Fitzgerald is jumping into the Italian murder mystery club with an added side note of art history, or more accurately, the art forgery genre.

While this book shows good promise and held my interest for long periods of time, there are significant weaknesses. It just seems like the author really doesn't know where he is headed with the protag
Jay Fromkin
Oct 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
"The Fatal Touch" returns to the basic theme of corruption among Italian police agencies, but this time framed not in the world of underground dog fighting, but rather the world of art forgery. Who is Henry Treacy? Was his death an accident or murder? And if it was murder, who killed him, and why?

Blume's former partner, Beppo Paolini, returns to help Blume, but his new inspector is Caterina Mattiola, a single mother who transferred to the murder squad from immigration investigations. She has ta
Zeb Kantrowitz
May 27, 2014 rated it liked it
This is the second book in the series about Commissario Alec Blume. Blume is an American ex-pat who settled in Rome after both his parents were killed in a shooting. Though he’s been a cop for years (and speaks fluent Italian), everyone still thinks of him as an American.

He has been given a new assistant, Caterina who has come over from the Department of Immigration where it was her job to deal with illegal immigrants. She made the transfer hoping she would be able to spend more time with her t
Blair McDowell
Jan 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Readers who love detective stories
Shelves: my-reviews, favorites
If you are a lover of Donna Leon’s Venetian detective, Guido Brunetti, and Andrea Camilleri’s Sicilian detective Silvo Montalbano, you will enjoy Conor Fitzgerald’s Commissario Alec Blume, of the Rome Polizia. Blume is an interesting character, a transplanted American with a fascinating back story which I won’t spoil by disclosing here. But all the aspects I’ve come to love in Italian detective stories are present in Fitzgerald’s books. There is the setting—Rome. There is the often problematic r ...more
Jul 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, 2011
3.5 stars, rounded up.

As most of my friends know, I'm a sucker for novels about the art world, and even more so for art-related mysteries. I also love mysteries set in foreign countries, so this book pretty much earned at least three stars just by existing.

I thought the writing was pretty tight -- things were buried throughout the book, but not so obviously that I had the ending figured out too early. Plus, the book wasn't even as much about the mystery as it was about the whole arc of the story
While it was a good, well-written police procedural (set in Rome, which is new to me with the Alec Blume series), this book was far too long. The pace was negatively affected by a lot of detailed description of peripheral activity, and some lengthy passages from the memoirs of the man whose possible murder (or was it a mugging gone wrong? Or just an unfortunate accident?) is being investigated.

In my review of The Alienist, by Caleb Carr, I talk about something I dislike that the author does with
Jul 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Jeanne, Carly, Chad, Marjan
Recommended to Joe by: NY Times
This is the second book in the series, and I hope Conor follows up with a third. As with the first book, Alec Blume again is not such a hero, as a old time police investigator with some bad luck and good friends. Conor Fitzgerald’s second Commissario Alec Blume novel, THE FATAL TOUCH, features Blume instructing a new, young inspector, Caterina Mattiola, on the fine arts of homicide detection. Mattiola is ambitious, a woman and a single mother of a 9-year-old, all of which are to her detriment in ...more
Shirley Schwartz
Feb 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book happens to be the second in the Alec Blume series, but I never read the first one. That is a mistake that I'm rectifying. I enjoyed this book so much that I want to read the first one now. I also apologize to the publisher for my tardiness in reviewing this book, but I got held up with so many other books that I kind of forgot this one. I am sorry that I did because this book is wonderful. In Blume we have a wonderful Comassario. Blume is American- born, but he now lives in Italy and h ...more
Kirsten Lenius
Nov 11, 2012 rated it liked it
This was an interesting book with some information about art history and the culture of Italy. It had some police procedural details that worked fairly nicely and dealt with a corrupt faction within Italy's law enforcement. The maini characters were interesting but not well enough developed to make me happy. The main character seemed flat and almost peripheral, rather than at the center of the story. My favorite part of the book and the part that I feel was best done was the internal dialogue of ...more
Aug 17, 2011 rated it liked it
The London Times claims that Fitzgerald has taken the late, lamented Michael Dibdin's place in the pantheon of Italian mystery authors. Well, the tone and plots are similar, but Dibdin's Zen seemed just a little less morally ambiguous and possessed or more of the Italian version of ,i>je ne sais quoi. Of course, Fitzgerald's Alec Blume is American by birth, if Italian by choice, and perhaps therein lies the difference.

Still, Fitzgerald is a worthy heir and his sophomore effort finds Blume doi
Jul 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Alec Blume is an Italian police commisario (like a chief superintendent?), which makes for a good back story. His unit's investigation of the death of an Irish expatriate painter and art forger brings Bloom into conflict with the Carabinieri, the Italian more-or-less paramilitary police. (The differences between our system of police and justice and the Italian system are both complex and interesting.) Blume, and one of his inspectors, Caterina Mattiola, encounter significant personal risk in a c ...more
Alexander Van Leadam
Mar 05, 2016 rated it did not like it
In the second Alec Blume book things take a worrying turn. There are enough clichés to make the book popular, from a young female cop under the tutelage of an older, gruff cop, an art treasure hunt, even an evil fat man. The story is appealingly complex (actually several cases at the same time) but the last part of the book is a bloody search for a McGuffin, only not really a McGuffin because it does matter in the end. Blume is a rather disappointing detective, sometimes insightful, too knowledg ...more
Leonardo Etcheto
Dec 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I liked this novel a lot. Starting with the viewpoint of the assistant was interesting, as well as the milieu of the crime – art forgery. The plot is good, with a believable evil mastermind, but nothing too outrageous. There is love, revenge, betrayal, art, beauty, kindness and cruelty – pretty much the full range of the human experience. I started this book in the afternoon and stayed up until the wee hours of the morning not stopping until I finished reading it. Found myself very engrossed in ...more
Dec 15, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommended to Derek by: Marta
Not as good as Fitzgerald's first outing, but still enjoyable.

I had some difficulty with credibility, but the reader has to remember we're talking about Italy. Or at least the Italy of crime fiction. The corrupt Carabiniere seems over-the-top, and certainly would be if set in North America, but is probably not worse than I have seen in other crime fiction set in Italy. I don't know enough, personally, about Italy to know how corrupt the police are, but one suspects that the novels might not be t
Aug 19, 2013 rated it liked it
This second in the series was a good follow up - and I was glad I read the first one before reading this. Several of the characters from the first were included and knowing the back story made it more interesting. Isn't it sad to read from several authors how corrupt the politics and policing of Italy are ?? But it is obvious that despite that, the authors love Italy itself. And the people and its art. And the focus of this book is art and the ways it corrupts and is corrupted. Keep your Google ...more
In my eyes, not as strong as the first book in the series, although I enjoyed the plot elements involving art forgery. Commissario Alec Blume seems to have undergone a personality change -- he's much more the hard-nosed police detective and more apt to stretch the law to its limit when it gives him an advantage, so I liked him less. I admired the way the author managed to make the victim, Henry Treacy, a real presence in the book through the use of his diaries. We never see Treacy alive, but he ...more
Jan 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Finally tackeling my to read shelf and was greatly surprised in this find. I'm not much of an art mystery fan, but I enjoyed this book. I think I enjoyed learning about the art as much as reading the book. I think the characters work nicely together, I didn't think there were any that could be left out. I haven't read the first book in the series, but after reading this one I fully intend on going back and starting from the beginning.
Doug Cooper
Feb 19, 2014 rated it liked it
I didn't think this book was as good as The Dogs Of Rome The details of the main victim's backstory (art forger/copier of old masters) threatened to drown the action in a couple of places. Similarly, the vic's child hood didn't seem to relate to a lot of what was going on.
Mar 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It has a great mix of procedural, Rome and the art world and a bit of sexual tension thrown in. I enjoyed the journal voice of Treacy and some of the other characters were well written and fulsome. Unlike some of the other reviewers, I found the central character interesting but had to work hsrd at the clues in the text to get inside what I thought was in his mind. I will definitely look out for the next one in the series.
Rosemarie Bentgen
May 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
I was most intrigued by the intensive instructions on Art Forgery in the notebooks of Henry. The multi-convolutions of the Italian law systems and its many layered departments, officials and their macho reluctance to share information,personnel, and authority is most typical of obsolete practices that I hope is disappearing in today's world. Meanwhile, It makes for a pretty good read and an intriguing Commissario Blume, who seems totally human and loaded with many foibles and flaws!!
May 31, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult, mystery
Loved the idea of a mystery dealing with art forgery. Almost reminded me of The Da Vinci Code without the religion aspects. Interesting storyline that kept the pages turning but the characters themselves felt almost awkward. Was glad that I was able to read this one and have it make sense since I found out afterwards that I was reading the second installment in a series!
Mar 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Solid story of art forger who is found dead in a piazza. The usual series character events occur to Inspector Blume, however the sidekicks and villains are well thought out and well-motivated. How does an art forger profit from finding an actual lost master work? No one will believe him, of course.
Apr 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
Just as in "Dogs of Rome," Fitzgerald's police commissioner Alec Blume is again an imperfect but interesting character who gets results. He is no superhero (in fact, his friends and acquaintances often suffer the results of his mistakes) but rather a survivor in a fascinating environment of Italy's darker side of crime and corruption.
Oct 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was really impressed by the Conor Fitzgerald's first novel The Dogs Of War, and I feared that he may be a one trick pony. Rest assured I found Conor has many tricks up his sleeve with his second book The Fatal Touch. This book was just as interesting as the first and I found the mystery just as entertaining. I look forward to continuing to read about Alec Blume solving the crimes of Rome.
Nov 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
After enjoying the first Blum book, The Dogs of Rome, I immediately found this #2 at the library. I enjoy Fitgerald's style in this Italian arena; the characters are refreshingly different from each other. Some I dislike and some I like; in fact, upon the death of one character I was genuinely touched. For my money, a very different style of police procedural/mystery, in a good way.
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