Having a background as a long-serving Italian prosecutor in organized crime cases has always given Carofiglio a head start on any other writer tackling the tortuous in-fighting between high-level criminals and the Italian legal system. His series hero, Guido Guerrieri, is usually the defending counsel, and in this latest (originally 2014) outing he is retained by a judge accused of taking bribes to throw cases. In real life Carofiglio knows exactly how such cases would be investigated and resolved, and that perhaps is not an advantage here. Too often he lets Guerrieri’s characteristic musings give way to thinly disguised lectures and expositions which hold up the action and slow the story.
There’s plenty to work with. Guerrieri himself is both credible and interesting company (and yes, he still has that punchbag in his flat), the judge is well-drawn and, from the outset, has you and Guerrieri wondering “did he, didn’t he?”, and the lawyer’s leather-clad sidekick, Annapaola Doria, brightens every scene that she appears in. This is not a bad read by any means, but if you haven’t read Carofiglio before (which you should) I’d suggest you start with another title.
A Fine Line
Gianrico Carofiglio (translated by Howard Curtis)
Bitter Lemon paperback, £8.99, 978-1-908524-61-4