Bitter Lemon Press, £8.99 Order for £8.54 (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
Temporary Perfections, By Gianrico Carofiglio
Tuesday 01 November 2011
Fans of that gorgeous Italian advocate, Guido Guerrieri, will be saddened by the melancholy which has overcome him in this, the fourth of his forensic adventures to be translated (by Antony Shugaar). We find the crusading criminal lawyer of Bari, now in his forties, in gloomy mode, knocking back Primitivo in an empty apartment. His girlfriend has left for America; he is living on takeaways and has just lost an important case in the Court of Cassation, Italy's highest tribunal. He even encounters that classic symbol of depression, a black dog: the one-eared Baskerville. His social life centres around the Chelsea Hotel, named after the bohemian New York establishment, where he is befriended by the exotic Nadia, porn actress and former client, who teaches him the finer points of drinking absinthe.
Into this Baudelarian lifestyle comes an old lawyer acquaintance with a run-of-the-mill problem: a client whose student daughter has gone missing. Guerrieri's interest is aroused by some curious aspects of the case, not least that the girl apparently vanished into thin air at a railway station. She was on vacation with student friends in a "trulli", curious conical stone structures in Apulia, once humble peasant huts, now holiday homes for the rich.
Guerrieri explores his past life to analyse the decisions which have brought him to this point. The gloom is brightened by an affair with beautiful Caterina, friend of the missing girl. But Guerrieri is sadly aware of the difference in their ages and that the relationship has no future. He also has lesser problems: a case of terrorism that turns on a legal peculiarity; a client accused of corruption whose real offence seems to be wearing tasseled loafers. More seriously, he has to investigate the drug scene among young people. Was the missing girl an addict, and how widespread was drug-use among her friends? Eventually, Guerrieri has to choose between the ethics he adopted as a young lawyer and shielding Caterina.
This is not only a fascinating panorama of Bari's neon-lit underworld. It's a fine literary achievement: a study of angst and the efforts of a disillusioned hero to find some integrity in a shady world.
Arts & Ents blogs
Never before seen personal accounts of Great War offer vivid picture of life at the Front
Neil Patrick Harris talks shooting 'robotic' Gone Girl sex scene with Rosamund Pike
Boy George: Bad karma
PonoMusic: Neil Young reaches Kickstarter target to fund new music player within a day
Disney's Frozen is 'very evil' gay propaganda, says Christian pastor
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
Fracking is turning the US into a bigger oil producer than Saudi Arabia
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
The quiet diplomat: Catherine Ashton - recognised and admired in all the world’s troubled countries, yet ridiculed at home
- 1 Hells of residence: Inside Macedonia's horrifying student accommodation - where the walls are green and the food is black
- 2 Michael Schumacher 'experience' gives F1 legend chance to 'show his character', says Lewis Hamilton
- 3 Girl found in the Amazon rainforest with neighbour Grover Morales after going missing for 7 months
- 4 Rampaging elephant smashes up house but then 'saves crying baby trapped under debris'
- 5 Disney's Frozen is 'very evil' gay propaganda, says Christian pastor