The Cold Summer by Gianrico Carofiglio Bitter Lemon Press September 13th 2018
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.
Ok, so lets get the negative out of the way first! The cover was not the most inspiring but the old adage, never judge a book by its cover definitely applies. Once that cover is peeled back Carofiglio drew me, the reader, into a world full of Godfathers, Santista’s and Santa’s. This was the Italy of the Mafia and the Carabinieri’s attempts to thwart the stranglehold the Mafia held over Bari in Southern Italy
Once such Carabinieri was Marshall Pietro Fenoglio, an officer who I admired for his quiet, methodical investigative techniques and his intelligence. Fenoglio was an officer with a heart, suffering the trauma of a broken marriage, yet still able to put his feelings to one side and concerntrate on the job in hand. It made such a welcome change from the myriad of gungho, violent seeking detectives that litter the crime genre.
That’s not to say the novel wasn’t without any violence, it just wasn’t in your face, just for the sake of it violence, instead Carofiglio used a series of police interviews to describe the inner workings of the Mafia, its hierarchy and its crimes. This is where the author excelled, the information presented was both fascinating and immersive, highlighting an organisation that was brutal in its need to control and amass wealth.
The Cold Summer was definitely not fast paced, it required your attention, your concentration as you immersed yourself in Fenoglio’s investigation. The plot meandered in varying directions before the pieces finally slotted together and we got a suitably dramatic ending. It was an ending that also held glimmers of a brighter future, of a job well done and the relentlessness of the Mafia onslaught abated until the next time.
It was interesting to read that the author Carofiglio was in fact a judge and anti-mafia prosecutor before turning to writing. Some of the events described actually happened and I loved the authentic and very real dimension that this added to the story. It was a novel that surprised me, that I found utterly absorbing and I would recommend to anyone who is looking for an intelligent and highly original crime novel.
I would like to thank Bitter Lemon Press for a copy of The Cold Summer to read and review and to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours fro inviting \my Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blog tour.
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.