Friday, August 10, 2012

Review of Day After Day by Carlo Lucarelli (2000, translation 2005, Vintage)

Alex works for an internet provider, policing their chat rooms. It’s a pedestrian job and he spends most of his day mourning the departure of his girlfriend back to Denmark from Italy and fending off nervous reaction to his dog, a Staffordshire bull terrier that people confuse for a pit bull. Ispettore Grazia Negro and two colleagues are staking out a criminal who is murdered without them even being aware of it. The crime seemingly has few clues as to the killer’s identity. A short while later a man is assassinated in an airport lounge whilst being protected by a security detail, yet the killer seemed anonymous entering and leaving the scene. Ever alert, Negro spots a connection between the murders: the image of a pit bull. She starts to search for other deaths where a pit bull is linked to the case, even in the most tangential ways. At the same time Alex has started to take a keen interest in an internet chat room notionally concerned with pit bulls. Unwittingly he has found a key to the killer’s identity, but he’s also made himself a potential target. The question is whether Negro can apprehend ‘the pit bull’ before he strikes again.

As with all of Lucarelli’s other translated novels (all reviewed on this blog), Day After Day is a relatively short book (in this case 225 pages in a small, pocket format). And as with the other books it is engagingly written with some very nice observational touches (I particularly liked those about silences and motorway driving) and it seems slightly underdeveloped. Lucarelli writes very tightly, with little in the way of subplots or misdirection or dead-ends. The style is all tell and little show. The result is a fairly linear plot which hurtles towards its inevitable conclusion. Yet his prose, quality of storytelling and the character of Ispettore Negro makes the reader want more. As with all his books then, I’m conflicted in rating Day After Day. On the one level, it’s a great read, a literary piece of crime fiction, on another level it is too straightforward and underdeveloped. Overall, a tightly written, entertaining read which could have benefitted with a little fleshing out.

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