The Root of All Evil

Written by Robert Constantini

Review written by Amy Myers

Amy Myers is known for her short stories and historical novels featuring Victorian chef Auguste Didier and chimney sweep Tom Wasp. Her contemporary series features classic car detective Jack Colby, and she is currently working on a new 1920s mystery series featuring Nell Drury, chef at Kent’s Wychbourne Court.


The Root of All Evil
Quercus
RRP: hardback £16.99. ebook £10.99
Released: August 7th, 2014
Kindle

The Deliverance of Evil, published to good reviews in 2013, was the first in a trilogy featuring Commissario Michele Balistreri. The Root of All Evil, its successor, is massive in length, massive in its scope and massive in what it achieves.

Covering, as did its predecessor, a period of some twenty years, this volume travels back to Balistreri’s youth in Libya in the 1960s, up to the coming of Colonel Gaddafi and the circumstances that turned Balistreri into the ruthless and relentless man who returned to Italy and joined the police force. Love and murder, loyalty and betrayal have all left their mark on Balistreri. Born into a rich Sicilian family now living in Libya, Michele forms a brotherhood of sand and blood with three friends; two of them are Libyan Muslims and one a Christian as is Michele. What happens to that brotherhood affects the whole of Balistreri’s life, and the murder of Nadia Al Bakri, the young sister of Ahmed and Kalim, the two Muslims, casts its long shadow over his career.

From the political upheavals of Libya to the corruption, crime and malaise of Italian society, the author deftly spins a web of intrigue that turns the murder case with which Balistreri is reluctantly faced into a remarkable international thriller. In a book of such length, pace often suffers. In The Root of All Evil however it only once faltered. Not having read the first in the trilogy, I think it would have helped to have known that Balistreri later has a police career in Italy in order to avoid the sharp switch of direction in the story; that did lose the pace for a while, but it soon comes back – and with a vengeance. I didn’t want the story to end – and it won’t. Satisfying though the conclusion is to this novel, there is still one more in the trilogy to look forward to.

Translated from the Italian by N.S. Thompson

 

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