Guerrieri's meeting with an old friend induces melancholy over his own current lack of companions ["Maybe that's normal, when you get to your forties. Everyone has their own affairs — family, children, separations, careers, lovers."]. The revelation that the friend's wife has died induces an emotion-choked phone call to his own girlfriend in which he can't quite bring himself to say, "I love you." But we already know that Guerrieri is sensitive because the pop music he listens to is pensive stuff: Tracy Chapman and Bruce Springsteen's "The Ghost of Tom Joad."
Carofiglio readily acknowledges that a midlife crisis sparked his writing career. But A Walk in the Dark is more than a New Yorker short story blown up to novel length. The book brings to life the conflicts between Italy's overlapping police jurisdictions better than do some other Italian novels, and it takes righteous shots at corruption and nepotism. And if you've ever wanted your crime-fiction protagonist to work out part of his angst by kissing a nun, this may be your book.
The trial and hearing scenes are exciting, as one might expect from an author who used to be an anti-Mafia judge. And the courtroom color is even better. It's easy to imagine Magistrato Carofiglio being distracted by the carnival around him and wishing he could plunge into it instead of getting ready for a trial:
"The entrance hall was packed: women, young men, carabinieri, prison wardens and lawyers, most of them provincial. It was the first day of the trial of a group of drug dealers from Altamura. The background nouse was the kind you hear in a theatre before the show starts."
© Peter Rozovsky 2011