Tuesday, February 14, 2012
A Walk in the Dark, by Gianrico Carofiglio
Bitter Lemon Press, 2006
originally published as Ad occhi chiusi
translated by Howard Curtis
215 pp (trade paper ed.)
Continuing with book two in Carofiglio's most excellent series, time and Guido Guerrieri have both moved along some two years since the events of the previous novel, Involuntary Witness. Now Guerrieri is in a comfortable relationship, he's started cooking, and has recently been mulling over the fact that he's approaching middle age. In his professional life, he is serving as attorney to a woman who has pressed charges against her former boyfriend. Martina Fumai now lives at a secret refuge for battered women, protected by a gorgeous, kickass nun, and has had enough of the regular abuse and stalking she's suffering at the hands of Dr. Gianluca Scianatico. She's been to other lawyers, who've all turned down the job -- Scianatico is the son of a very powerful judge, and is also "a one-time Fascist thug, a poker player. And a cokehead." No other attorney will take Martina as a client because of their fear of the consequences to their careers. But after hearing from Sister Claudia just how desperate Martina's situation has been, Guido can't help himself and agrees to help. Berating himself at first for getting finding "a jam to get into," Guerrieri's anxiety quickly turns into annoyance because of Scianatico's bragged-about protected status, and he's off. Information uncovered at the trial leads him to try and discover what he can about Martina's past, inevitably leading him into closer proximity with Sister Claudia.
One thing I've picked up about Carofiglio's writing over these two books is that he does an excellent job of striking a balance between the Guerrieri of the courtroom and Guerrieri the person. This balance is also reflected within the plot -- there's a more action-based storyline set off against Guido's inner issues. For example, as Guerrieri is wrestling with his feelings about the death of an old friend's wife and his uncertainties about middle age, flashback sequences reveal another character's horrible childhood experience. Throughout the story, the message is clear: sitting around and waiting for something to happen never gets you anywhere -- sometimes you just have to jump in, with both eyes closed if necessary, and take control.
While this story may not appeal to those who want a bit more of an adrenaline rush while they read, it's perfect for readers who like realistic characters and intelligent writing. A Walk in the Dark has a bit more action than its predecessor, an ending that will satisfy, and yet it is never over the top in its execution. Carofiglio is such an efficient writer that the reader gets into Guerrieri's mind quickly and easily, while simultaneously being sucked into the courtroom drama. Even better, the story is totally complete by the end of the book -- there are no loose ends left hanging anywhere.
I LOVE this series and highly recommend it. Happily I have two more to read right away.
I ask you: is it possible to have a crush on a fictional character???