Luigi Guicciardi (translated by Iain Halliday)

Hersilia Press pbk, £7.99

Released: 15th March 2010

Reviewer: Russell James


Russell James has been named ďthe Godfather of NoirĒ by Ian Rankin. Russell writes crime novels - about criminals and victims, not the cozy procedural or whodunnit. He is the editor of Great British Fictional Detectives.

Thereís something very un-Italian about Italian crime stories. They tend to be urbane, calm and unstressful, the investigating officers patient and discursive, and even the villains often give up without a fight. Once itís explained to them that theyíve been found out, they raise their hands in acknowledgement and come quietly. Perhaps itís all those years of confession and atonement.

This more-English-than-an-English-cosy feel certainly applies to Criminal Summer in which the leisurely Inspector Cataldo investigates a short series of murders clearly linked to a dubious car crash eighteen years before, in which an enormous sum of cash was stolen from the car. The man jailed for the crime has just been released and is in the area. Did he want revenge? No, thatís too obvious. You wouldnít buy it, and neither does Cataldo.

Itís a pleasant read and, although it should appeal to readers of Camillero and Carofiglio, they do it better. Behind the languid front of this tale is an over-complicated plot and, I suspect, an all too obvious true culprit. But itís an enjoyable read in the sunshine, alongside a glass of Orvietto.






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