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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

A Walk in the Dark

Gianrico Carofiglio

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To purchase A Walk in the Dark

Title: A Walk in the Dark
Author: Gianrico Carofiglio
Genre: Novel
Written: 2003 (Eng. 2006)
Length: 215 pages
Original in: Italian
Availability: A Walk in the Dark - US
A Walk in the Dark - UK
A Walk in the Dark - Canada
A Walk in the Dark - India
In freiem Fallk - Deutschland
Ad occhi chiusi - Italia
Con los ojos cerrados - España
  • Italian title: Ad occhi chiusi
  • Translated by Howard Curtis

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Our Assessment:

B : solid, thoughtful courtroom drama

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Independent . 7/12/2010 Jane Jakeman
TLS . 5/5/2006 Andreas Campomar
The Washington Post . 29/10/2006 Rosemary Herbert

  From the Reviews:
  • "Carofiglio plunges us even deeper into the sense of life's capricious cruelty by intercutting Guerrieri's story with flashbacks from the childhood of an unknown character" - Jane Jakeman, The Independent

  • "Carofiglio writes in crisp, laconic sentences which reflect Guerrieri's sense of isolation. And the subtle shifts in tone of the first-person narrative are especially suited to the genre. Howard Curtis's seamless translation should be commended for sticking close to the original Italian and for reproducing the protagonist's voice." - Andreas Campomar, Times Literary Supplement

  • "While a hero such as Guerrieri -- sensitive, a good cook -- may be familiar (see Robert B. Parker's Spenser and numerous imitations), the Italian setting and the legal details are novel and fascinating." - Rosemary Herbert, The Washington Post

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       A Walk in the Dark is narrated by Italian lawyer Guido Guerrieri, a reasonably successful attorney in Bari who handles a wide variety of case. He's an honest, decent guy, working in a country and a system where most people are more ... flexible, one might say.
       The case the book centres around is one that two other attorneys have already declined when Inspector Carmelo Tancredi -- "almost a friend", and another decent guy -- asks him to consider taking it: Martina Fumai has been stalked and abused by Gianluca Scianatico and has brought charges against him. Unfortunately, though Scianatico is, in fact, a "notorious idiot" with quite the reputation, he's also the son of an extremely powerful judge, and has found almost every move in his life facilitated by this family connexion.
       Despite the fact that handling the case of a woman attacking such a favoured son is probably not the best move for a lawyer, Guerrieri signs on. He's fairly confident he's on the side of right here, and he's willing to face even this almost overwhelming might. Part of what convinces him is that Martina is being supported by a Sister Claudia, who helps abused women and is a forceful personality in her own right.
       The case comes down to his word against hers, with matters slightly complicated by the fact that Martina has had some mental health issues. A dastardly lawyer on the other side also helps spice things up -- but Guerrieri also has a few tricks up his sleeve. Scianatico's psychopathic obsession doesn't quite end with the (lengthy but intermittent) court-case (presumably against the advice of counsel), but there's also more to Sister Claudia than first meets the eye to spice things up further.
       A Walk in the Dark is basically a courtroom drama, and part of its appeal is the picture it offers of a different legal system at work. Each side has an attorney making the case, but there's also a public prosecutor involved; the case itself is presented piece by piece not in quick succession but over a fairly lengthy period. Carofiglio -- a prosecutor himself -- does the courtroom bits very well, and the book is enjoyable just for that: the questioning, the clashing legal personalities, the strategies. And the case is a decent one as well: fairly straightforward, but with a few complications thrown in (how serious are the mental health issues ? how far does the influence of Scianatico's father go ?).
       A good deal of the novel also takes place outside the courtroom. Guerrieri is a decent, somewhat philosophical guide, given to uneasy nights and far-reaching musing. He's in an odd sort of relationship -- they're very much a couple, but Margherita has a separate apartment, two floors from his ..... Sister Claudia is the other significant character, and though she doesn't wear a habit, she'd have a lot to hide beneath it if she did.
       It all fits together fairly well, feeling a bit forced (and a bit underdeveloped) at times, but overall making for a good, quick read. The conclusion to the case is perhaps a bit too simple and (melo)dramatic, but it's what the book builds to (i.e. it could hardly have come down differently) and in its way satisfying enough -- even if it is almost too easily satisfying. Guerrieri is a sympathetic character, and as part of a series (this is the second Guerrieri-book) -- or chapter in a career -- A Walk in the Dark works well.

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A Walk in the Dark: Reviews: Other books by Gianrico Carofiglio under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Gianrico Carofiglio is a prosecutor in Italy. He was born in 1961.

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© 2006-2021 the complete review

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