Lawyer Guido Guerrieri, star of Involuntary Witness, is back and this time his client is the victim of battery at the hands of her abusive boyfriend. Unfortunately Gianluca Scianatico is the son of a prominent judge, and nobody else would take the case. Guerrieri, however, likes a challenge, and is a champion for the underdog. But with the defence tarnishing the image of the witness, and intimidation around every corner, how can they succeed? Even with the help of Sister Claudia, a most unusual nun, it doesn't look good.
A slender volume, particularly compared to the legal thrillers of John Grisham and Steven Martini, A Walk in the Dark is crisp and honed - like its predecessor, it combines the basic plot (which would be pedestrian in the hands of a lesser author) with the ongoing exploration of an unusual man, set in a distinctive and compelling sense of place. I want to see the films Guerrieri enjoys (House of Games, a film I hadn't heard of, is one of his ten favourite films), and visit where he lives. In my previous review I said I was surprised by the prevalence of American elements, which I suspected had been inserted for an English-speaking readership in place of Italian originals, but I've changed my mind - for a start, the lyrics of REM's "Losing My Religion" are too tightly bound with the plot at one point to be an artifact.
The protagonist has a great voice, dry and ironic - "You could hear music, even before you got inside the villa. Wind and string instruments, remote, mystical sounds, a few strokes of the gong. The best of Vietnamese New Wave, someone explained to me some time later. The kind of music I love so much I can even listen to it for five minutes at a stretch." Not a word is wasted, and yet everything is captured. More, please! - Alex