Russell James has been named “the Godfather of Noir” by Ian Rankin. Russell writes crime novels - about criminals and victims, not the cozy procedural or whodunnit. He is the editor of Great British Fictional Detectives.
It seems at first as if the action is over, and the story has ended before this superb book has begun. Rome-based Roberto Marias is an ex-undercover cop, a shell of the man he once was, and while on extended sick-leave he attends two psychiatric sessions a week, during which the story of his previous double existence is revealed.
As the story unfolds we intrude on the musings and innocent fantasies of an unidentified young boy. What’s the link? Can psychiatry (and pills) help Roberto out of his stress-induced lethargy? Can he, and should he, begin a relationship with fellow-patient Emma? It is deeply satisfying (and a sign of our confidence in Carofiglio) that we know that each of these questions will be answered. Brooding and gripping, this is Carofiglio’s finest novel yet.