Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Crocodile by Maurizio de Giofanni

First Sentence:  Death comes in on track three at 8:qr in the morning, seven minutes behind schedule.
     
A killer is loose in Naples; anonymous and methodical, yet keeping a diary, known about only to him, of his actions. Insp. Giuseppe Lojancono is mistrusted as a suspected snitch to the Mafia, and has been transferred to an inconsequential post in Naples.  The only thing he is supposed to do is paperwork; no cases.  It’s not his fault that he’s the only one on duty when a call comes in about a murder.  In fact, it is the third execution-style killing of a young person, all within days of each other.  Magistrate Laura Piras quickly learns that Lojancono is the only one to have picked up on clues missed by others and orders he be assigned to the investigation. 
     
What a wonderfully evocative and compelling opening.  The narrative, which progresses through the story, is chilling for its complete objectivity. 
     
de Giovanni has excelled at creating an excellent character in Lojancono who is isolated by circumstances outside his own making.  It creates a strong bond of empathy to the reader.  Yet he balances that character with others who form a link to Lojancono, yet have insecurities and failings of their own. 
   
There are wonderfully descriptive passages throughout…”Dawn on a rainy day.  There’s not a specific moment when you see the dawn.  Suddenly it’s there, sliding into view while you had your mind on other things.”  The one weakness, however, is in the dialogue which often seems awkward, possibly due to issues in translation.
   
This is definitely a darker book than his “Deed” series, but de Giovanni is such a fine writer, he draws you in and makes you want to know about the people and where the story is going.

Crocodile” is, in an odd way, a story of broken relationships, and includes a very good description of grief.  There is an excellent building of suspense as the pace of the story accelerates.  All the pieces are brought together to a stunning conclusion.  de Giovanni is an author very worth reading.

THE CROCODILE (Pol Proc-Inspet. Giuseppe Lojacono-Italy-Contemp) – VG+
de Giovanni, Maurizio – 1st
Europa Editions; Reprint Edition – July, 2013

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