Adam Colclough lives and works in the West Midlands, he writes regularly for a number of websites, one day he will get round to writing a book for someone else to review.
The dead body of an elderly man is found on Rome’s Piazza De’ Renzi, just another old drunk who took one tumble too many. Hardly the sort of case to merit the interest of Commissioner Alec Blume, until it emerges that the old man was a gifted art forger with connections to people in high places who want Blume’s investigation over before it has even begun.
Conor Fitzgerald’s second novel set on the mean piazzas of Rome is a treat for fans of Donna Leon and Michael Dibdin, to both of whom he has attracted favourable comparisons.
Fitzgerald writes with authority about the corruption that permeates life in the eternal city, compromising everyone it touches. Here it takes the shape of a senior Carabiniere officer who has manipulated the people in his power for decades, making a fortune from forged works of art and destroying the lives of everyone who crosses his path.
The sections of the book dealing with the tricks of the art forgery trade are entirely convincing and often touching in the way they describe a considerable artistic talent corrupted before it was fully formed. There is also no shortage of thrills and a satisfyingly ambiguous conclusion.
This is an astoundingly assured novel from a writer who knows how to use the unique atmosphere of modern Italy to provide fascinating local colour and in Alec Blume has created a leading character who is able to observe the dark heart of his city from an outsider’s perspective whilst being inextricably linked to it.