Book Review: Day After Day by Carlo Lucarelli

Dayafterday Day After Day by Carlo Lucarelli

Translated by Oonagh Stransky.

Vintage, 2005. (First published in Italy 2000).

Day After Day is, after a bit of a rocky start, a tight and exciting follow-up to Almost Blue. It again follows an investigation led by Ispettore Grazia Negro of the Bologna police. The main plot concerns a series of assassinations by a professional killer — there is no apparent reason for the choice of victim, and no careless clues to give the police a handle on events. No clue, that is, except for the allusion to a pit-bull terrier in some form at each crime scene.

By clever intercutting between different characters’ perspectives, ranging from the secretive “mother’s boy” Vittorio, a jewellery salesman with a difference, to lovestruck young student Alex who helps moderate an internet chat room to earn some spare cash, the story gradually comes into focus. It’s a taut narrative told with frenzied pace, some shocks, and with little space for rambling digressions — though Vittorio does have time to muse:  “When they rise out of nowhere, [the] images are called fantasies. When they’ve already happened, they’re memories.”

Grazia is an extremely driven woman, with little time for personal life or even personal hygiene. Here, she's more confident, and harder, than she was in her previous appearance in Almost Blue. She acts first and thinks afterwards, which keeps the action cracking along but does lead her into some avoidable situations and, ultimately, catastrophes. I take my hat off to the author for providing a logical (I have no idea whether plausible!) explanation for the killer’s motives and actions, unlike many other thrillers about  serial criminals.

The author is a magazine editor, screenplay author and a teacher of writing, as well as being a host of a popular Italian TV series that “examines unsettling and unsolved crimes and the urban centres in which they occur”.  His earlier novel, Almost Blue, was shortlisted for the CWA gold dagger.

My review of Almost Blue, the first in this series (of which Day After Day is the second).

Reviews of Almost Blue and Day After Day at Crime Scraps, the blog that encouraged me to try this author.

Carlo Lucarelli's Almost Blue and Day After Day discussed by Glenn Harper at International Noir Fiction.

Carlo Lucarelli at the Italian Mysteries website.