‘It was his words that stuck in my memory, and when I think back on them I feel something ambiguous, a mixture of tenderness and horror, at how those naive aspirations were swallowed whole by the voracious crevasses of life.’ – Temporary Perfections, by Gianrico Carofiglio

November 11, 2011 at 11:06 pm (Book review, books, Italy, Mystery fiction)

I usually wait until I have finished a book to write about it. In fact, I have a fairly large stack awaiting my attention.

They’ll have to wait a bit longer.

  Defense attorney Guido Guerrieri has been asked to look into the disappearance of a young woman named Manuela Ferraro. It has been six months since Manuela, age 22, was last seen. A thoroughgoing investigation  by the Carabinieri, one of Italy’s national police forces, has turned up nothing. As all avenues of inquiry seem to have been explored, an assistant district attorney has requested that the case be closed. Manuela’s parents are understandably desperate.

Guido is not a trained investigator. But the lawyer for the Ferraro family is a  friend of his. And  besides, he finds himself empathizing deeply with the parents of the missing woman.

And so begins Guido Guerrieri’s involvement in the case. Currently I’m about two thirds of the way through this novel, and so far this genial ‘avvocato’ hasn’t made any discernible headway. But I’ve had a wonderful time getting to know him.

This is not a plot driven novel. Its richness lies in its character creation, vivid sense of place – the place being the city of Bari, in Italy’s Puglia region – and terrific writing.  Temporary Perfections is the fourth in the Guido Guerrrieri series. The previous three have been translated and published in this country. I’m shaking my head and asking myself: How have I managed thus far to completely miss this author?

brief piece on Carofiglio appeared in The New Yorker in 2005. In it, we learn that Gianrico Carofiglio began his career as a judge but then became a prosecutor “‘because I’m kind of a cop in my soul.'” (As a prosecutor, he specialized in going after the mob bosses of Puglia.) The Guido Guerrrieri series has been filmed for Italian television. Just going by appearance, the author himself could have taken the lead: .

I plan to go back and read the other Guerrieri novels. I absolutely love this book!

1 Comment

  1. Kay said,

    I’ve only read the first few chapters, but already I’m hooked. The writing is wonderful. Guido’s encounter with the cabdriver whose front seat is full of books had me hooked at once. And the mention of the “trulli” brought back last year’s visit to Puglia. I have lots of photos of the trulli, which are a mystery in themselves and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Got to get back to the book!

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