The summer of 1992 had been exceptionally cold in southern Italy. But that’s not the reason why it is still remembered.
On May 23, 1992, a roadside explosion killed the Palermo judge Giovanni Falcone, his wife and three police officers. A few weeks later judge Paolo Borsellino and five police officers were killed in the center of Palermo. These anti-mafia judges became heroes but the violence spread to the region of Bari in Puglia, where we meet a new, memorable character, Maresciallo Pietro Fenoglio, an officer of the Italian Carabinieri. Fenoglio, recently abandoned by his wife, must simultaneously deal with his personal crisis and the new gang wars raging around Bari. The police are stymied until a gang member, accused of killing a child, decides to collaborate, revealing the inner workings and the rules governing organised crime in the area.
The story is narrated through the actual testimony of the informant, a trope reminiscent of verbatim theatre which Carofiglio, an ex-anti-mafia judge himself, uses to great effect. The gangs are stopped but the mystery of the boy’s murder must still be solved, leading Fenoglio into a world of deep moral ambiguity, where the prosecutors are hard to distinguish from the prosecuted.
I would like to thank the author, publisher Bitter Lemon Press and blog tour organiser Anne Cater for the ARC in return for an honest review.
The Cold Summer is a story about the violence and criminal the activities of the Italian Mafia. It’s also about those that risk their lives to bring an end to the endless cycle of violence and intimidation following the death of a young boy.
It is surprisingly, given the subject matter largely free from graphic scenes of violence and I loved it as a result. The brutality is there, under the surface almost, simmering away, while Gianrico Carofiglio uses the confessional feeling of the interview room and the testimony of an informant to take us into the ruthless criminal underworld.
He also gives us the gentle and intelligent Maresciallo Fenoglio, an Italian Police Officer, who I could happy spend many more hours in the company of. Characterisation is perfection. He gives this book an air of warmth and for me is akin to the decent and sympathetic Jimmy Perez in Anne of Cleves Shetland novels. As Perez embodies the ruggedness of the Shetland Islands, Fenoglio fufills my image of the laid back, but troubled Italian policeman, for whom honour and integrity are central to his life.
The parts of this book that I loved the most, was the attention paid to the investigation. The feeling that you ate part of it, solving the mystery as Fenoglio does. The atmosphere is claustrophobic is some ways, as we are locked in the interview room with criminal and police officer; then as it spreads out in the countryside around it, we are sucked in the murky criminal underworld behind the civilized facade.
If your taste lies in fast paced reads, with twists and turns that confuse the mind and trick it into false predictions of the outcome, than this is not the book for you. It has more of a languid feel to it, the story seeping into your senses. Don’t get me wrong, I love the faster paced novels, in fact I adore them, but this book is the polar opposite and I thrived on the change of pace. The reveal of the culprit is more subtle, the twist is there, this is thriller so there will always be one, but it was simply revealed at a gentler pace. Rather than the bang of exploding champagne, this being set in Italy, the story is like a mature, full bodied Italian wine, being consumed while sitting under the setting sun on an Italian terrace.
I would recommend to all those who love thrillers, especially readers who enjoy a more laid back, less pacer read. It really is a very enjoyable read.
You can purchase The Cold Summer from Amazon.
About the author
Award-winning, best-selling novelist Gianrico Carofiglio was born in Bari in 1961 and worked for many years as a prosecutor specialising in organised crime.
He was appointed advisor of the anti-Mafia committee in the Italian parliament in 2007 and served as a senator from 2008 to 2013.
Carofiglio is best know for the Guido Guerrieri crime series; Involuntary Witness, A Walk in the Dark, Reasonable Doubts, Temporary Perfections and now, a Fine Line, all published by Bitter Lemon Press.
His other novels include The Silence of the Wave.
Carofiglio’s books have sold more than four million copies in Italy and have been translated into twenty-four languages worldwide.
You can follow the author on Twitter.