“I broke off, but too late. I was about to say, even supposing your husband is telling the truth – and supposing doesn’t mean conceding – proving it, or at least creating a reasonable doubt, will be extremely difficult. I broke off because I didn’t want to reawaken her more than reasonable doubts.”That’s Guerrieri talking to the wife of a client jailed and accused of smuggling forty kilograms of cocaine from Montenegro into Italy. Look how much Carofiglio tells us about Guerrieri in three simple sentences. He’s lawyerly, he’s good-hearted, he’s humorous, and he sends the narrative off in two directions: toward Guerrieri’s case, and toward his relationship with the client’s wife. Reasonable doubts (a literal translation of the Italian title) does double duty in its legal sense and its everyday sense.
The passage is ironical for a third reasonable doubt, unstated here: Guerrieri’s own doubts about the case. Or perhaps those doubts are implied in that second sentence, with its stops, starts, hedges and changes of direction that contain a humorous hint of Dickens. In any case, it helps make Guerrieri an enormously appealing protagonist, more so than he would be if he were just another good-guy lawyer fighting for the downtrodden. (I'll guess that the smoothly delivered multiple meanings are a tribute to the translator, Howard Curtis.)
© Peter Rozovsky 2007
Italian crime fiction
Bitter Lemon Press
translated crime fiction