A walk in the dark

"There’s a song…."
" ‘Losing my religion’. "
She screwed up her eyes, then said yes. "You know what that means: losing my religion?"
"I know what it means literally. Is there another meaning?"
"It’s an idiomatic expression. It means something like: I can’t take it any more".


That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don’t know if I can do it
Oh no, I’ve said too much
And I haven’t said enough.

Gianrico Carofiglio’s second novel, A Walk in the Dark, is even better than his excellent debut, Involuntary Witness. Although translated with more assurance than Witness (this time by Howard Curtis), the author has matured, adding depth to the characters who appeared in the previous novel and introducing new ones who are instantly real. The confident dovetailing of back-story and character development as the plot unfolds is unfaltering.

Against the background of a legal case — this time Guido Guerrieri is prosecuting a well-connected man for abusing his girlfriend — the book is a perfect jewel. The themes are addiction — to alcohol, cigarettes, fear or to a behaviour pattern — and coping with the premature loss of a relationship — by illness, death or cruelty. The context is corruption. I have some personal knowledge of the baroque and sinister lunacies of the Italian legal system, obviously not by any means as extensive as Carofiglio’s (he used to be a judge), but enough to know that his accounts of the machinations are realistic.

The result is a powerful, insightful and compelling account of a tragedy — or two or three. If you only read one book for the rest of this year, make it this one.

This review is archived, with Amazon links, at my Vox blog "Maxine’s book reviews".

2 thoughts on “A walk in the dark

  1. Glad you liked it! For some reason this didn’t grab me quite as much as Involuntary Witness, but I still found it delightful. Did you notice a difference between the translators then? I read mine a year apart so didn’t really notice anything.

  2. Hi Karen, I read them quite close together. I really noticed the translation in the first one, some of the colloquialisms jarred, whereas it seemed seamless in the second book.
    Well, I was just pleased to manage to finish the book at all — seems to get harder and harder to fit in any reading these days, or to be able to concentrate on the book when I do make the time. Maybe this fact made me get a bit carried away with the review! I did enjoy the book very much, that’s for sure.

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