Black Run

Written by Antonio Manzini

Review written by Adam Colclough

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.

Black Run
Fourth Estate
RRP: £7.99
Released: January 28 2016

Deputy Police Chief Rocco Schiavone in a man with a past; a past dark enough to see him rusticated by the powers that be to Aosta, an Alpine town that seems like the back of beyond compared to Rome.

Even in the back of beyond murder still happens. When the mangled body of a local hotel owner turns up on the piste, Schiavone is soon at the centre of a case involving hidden passions and possible links to the Mafia, with suspicious locals and untrustworthy colleagues added to the mix. Sometimes it can be hard for an honest cop to turn an honest Euro; which is why Schiavone doesn't waste much of his time trying to be one.

This is a diamond hard and supremely accomplished thriller from a writer with real feeling for both the landscape of the mountains and the mix of high chic and low end corruption that is a feature of Italian life. The crime itself has about it a squalid brutality, born of desperation that rings all too true; and Manzini teases out who did the deed and why, with a satisfying theatrical flourish.

As a protagonist, Schiavone is more flaws than virtues which this makes him, initially, hard to warm to, as he is cynical, thuggish and not always on the side of the law. Over time though Manzini reveals him as being a more complex character with a surprising vulnerability, and a deep moral ambiguity about the murky world he inhabits.

On the strength of this, the first of his novels to be translated into English, Antonio Manzini could be a striking new voice in European crime writing.

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