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Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Crocodile. Maurizio De Giovanni (Writer), Anthony Shugaar (Translator) Abacus (2014)

An intense tense and gripping crime story that builds to a bitter conclusion. Someone is murdering teenagers in Naples, the victims appear to be wildly unrelated and the killer quickly gets the nickname of the Crocodile. Disgraced Detective Inspector Giuseppe Lojacono has a suspicion about the case which is utterly at odds with the accepted explanation and he is drawn into the investigation over the strong objections of his superior officers. The story unravels steadily, the reveals are staged with great skill and the investigation slowly finds the real reasons for the killing.
The narrative is artfully split among various members of the cast and each is given the space and time to develop into someone real and substantial before they become embroiled into the tentacles of the plot. Giuseppe Lojacono, trapped by a scandal he did not create is an exile in Naples, brutally separated from his home in Sicily and his family. He is rotting away in an office, too toxic to be utilised , too innocent to be fired, the case pulls him in as his skills start to assert themselves. The killer is also an exile, come to Naples to bring death to those he hunts. From the astonishing opening chapter which reads like melodrama, he is slowly revealed to be what he really is, the truly terrifying Crocodile, a man with a mission. A third exile from Sardinia, Piras, the Assistant Public Prosecutor who is managing the investigation is another person with a shattered personal history. It is the understanding of grief that give Lojacono and Prias the edge to understand the line that the killer is following.
The Crocodile opens as a conventional crime story with a disgraced police officer and a relentless killer then it slowly moves to be something considerably darker and more intense. The narrative control that Maurizio De Giovanni has as the various threads slowly come together then the rush of time is cunningly splintered so that the final conclusion is arrived at with aching dread and ferocious tension.
Anthony Shugaar's translation is invisible, the story reads as entirely Italian written in English.
Like the title character, this story appears to be quiet and seeking to be unnoticed, as it reveals itself it establish a grip on the reader every bit as fierce and powerful as that of a crocodile as the power of grief and the horror that can spring from it becomes clear. A brilliant crime story, not to be missed.

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