“I pledge my allegiance to the Italian Republic,
to faithfully observe and execute its Constitution
and the laws of the state, and to comply with the duties
of my office in the interestof the administration for the public good.”
Well said, Signorina! Well sworn! Thus spake Colomba Caselli when she joined the Italian police force. Now she is Deputy Chief Caselli of the Third Section of Rome’s Homicide Squad, but this outrageously entertaining novel details a thousand and one different ways in which Caselli – “thirty-three years old in her body but a few years older in the green eyes that changed hue with her mood.” – breaks her vow to be an obedient police officer.
Side by side with a pharmaceutically-addicted genius called Dante Torre she attempts to solve a grotesque mass murder. The express train from Milan to Rome arrives safely. Safe, that is, except for the passengers in the first class compartments who have all died in grotesque agony. Their bodies are discovered by an officer of the Railway Police and when he alerts his superiors,“la merda colpisce il ventilatore..” as they might (but probably don’t) say in Rome. Ironically, it is the fan from the air conditioning unit which has spread the deadly gas.
Despite the usual suspects – none other than the “Allahu Akhbar”- chanting killers from ISIS – claiming responsibility for the atrocity, Caselli smells a particularly putrid rat, and she breaks away from official shackles to track down the real killer. Dazieri does a fair job of explaining relationship between Colomba Caselli and Dante Torre, but the full picture relies quite heavily on the back story which played out in the earlier novel, Kill The Father. It seems that Torre had been held captive by a malevolent psychopath – The Father – but, with the help of Caselli has escaped, but not before both he and the policewoman have sustained significant physical and mental damage.
As readers, we learn that the real killer sought by Caselli and Torre is an almost supernaturally gifted killer, a woman known as Giltine, the Lithuanian Angel of Death. The action spins back and forth between Rome, Venice and Berlin and, just as peeling an onion reveals further layers, a complex collision of events is revealed. At the root of the malevolent and seemingly indestructible Giltin’s thirst for violent revenge is something which happened in a remote region of Ukraine on 25th April 1986. Watch out, though, for a very, very clever twist regarding the avenging angel. A clue, but no plot spoiler, I hope – have any of you ever read Harry Bingham’s amazing Fiona Griffiths novels?
Kill The Angel, translated from the Italian by Antony Shugaar (right), is ridiculously entertaining. The narrative constantly breaks the speed limit, and Colomba Caselli and Dante Torre are wonderfully imagined character. We can boo and hiss as Colomba is screwed – in all senses of the word – by sinister global forces, but she is a truly modern kick-arse (‘ass’ for US readers) heroine and she scorches her way across the pages of this gripping novel.
Be warned: even readers who might think themselves strong of stomach and with a healthy capacity to absorb horrors might find themselves reaching for Aunt Maud’s smelling salts. Visions from Hell loom large, like the child forced to sit with a deadly arachnid sealed in his mouth, or the hideously scarred man who, having survived a catastrophic fire in a night club, recovers – only to be eviscerated with a shard of mirror glass wielded by an enraged sociopath. ‘Kill The Angel, by Sandrone Dazieri (below) is published by Simon and Schuster, and is out now.
LONDON, TOKYO, ROME, RURAL ENGLAND, WASHINGTON DC – and TRANSYLVANIA! Anyone fancy a round the world trip via the pages of crime and mystery thrillers? If so, stay tuned. We are hardly ten days into May, and the intriguing books keep thudding onto my front door-mat.
THEY SAY THAT YOU’RE NEVER TOO OLD TO LEARN – and reading the Amazon description of Dazieri’s novels I came across the amazing word Rocambolesque. As ever, Google had an answer of sorts, and I am now waiting for the opportunity to drop the word into casual conversation with my friends and family. That aside, Dazieri returns with another case for detectives Torre and Caselli. An express train from Milan arrives in Rome, but several of its passengers and train crew won’t be disembarking, at least without the help of medical teams, stretchers and body bags. This is Italian Noir at its finest, and not for the faint of heart. Published by Simon & Schuster, Kill The Angel is translated by Anthony Shugaar, and is out now.
I’LL RISK A SMALL WAGER WITH YOU. I say a word, and you respond instantly with another word. Yes, I know, it’s that old word association game associated with bogus psychiatrists and psychotherapists. Anyway, I have written two words on a slip of paper, and I win if either is the word you come up with. Ready? OK, here goes…
If you said either “Dracula” or “Vampire”, I win. But maybe you’ve been reading the novel by Irish-Hungarian actress and poet, Vivienne Vermes? If so, you’ll know that her novel The Barefoot Road definitely doesn’t involve teeth, cloaks, garlic or unconventional blood transfusions. It dos however, involve blood which is shed by violence. A young woman is found near a Romanian village. She is unconscious, half -starved, and barely alive. She is from an ethnic group which were brutally expelled by the ancestors of the present villagers. Humanity temporarily triumphs over tribal bigotry and she is nursed back to health, but when she begins a relationship with one of the villagers, and a child disappears, the embers of old hatreds burst into flames. The Barefoot Road is published by Matador, and is available as a Kindle or a paperback.