Carofiglio, Gianrico - 'Involuntary Witness' (translated by Patrick Creagh)
Bitter Lemon Press have yet another winner on their hands. At the recent Harrogate Crime Writing Festival where the author was on a 'crime in translation' panel the bookshop sold out of INVOLUNTARY WITNESS.
INVOLUNTARY WITNESS chronicles a period of change for its main character, lawyer Guido Guerrieri whilst at the same time enlightening the reader on the Italian justice system, before culminating in the trial of a Senegalese peddler who has been arrested for the murder of a young boy.
The book begins with Guido separating from his wife which leads to a subsequent psychological illness. He has panic attacks, suffers from insomnia and most embarrassingly for him feels like bursting into tears whilst in public. His work suffers and his clients suffer until one client and one case enables him to start to recover.
Abdou Thiam, a schoolteacher in his home country, can earn ten times as much selling fake handbags and watches at the coastal resorts near Bari. Abdou has been arrested for the kidnap and murder of a nine-year-old boy and the evidence against him is quite convincing even if totally circumstantial. Guido believes he is innocent and takes the case.
Unlike in a lot of crime novels, Guido does not go out investigating and try to find the real killer instead he does his job i.e. he defends his client to the best of his ability and using logic, throws doubt on all the so called 'evidence' against his client. The final verdict brought tears to my eyes.
I savoured INVOLUNTARY WITNESS with its spare writing, smoothly translated by Patrick Creagh. With its strong sense of place and the heat, I felt I was there. There's a real-time feel to the book as the main crime plot is stretched out whilst Guido is dealing with other business, romance, holidays and so on. Guido is such a likeable and sympathetic character I just enjoyed every moment of the book and I can't wait for the next book to be translated.
Read another review of INVOLUNTARY WITNESS.
Karen Meek, England