About The Book
The summer of 1992 had been exceptionally cold in southern Italy. But that’s not the reason why it is still remembered.
On May 23, 1992, a roadside explosion killed the Palermo judge Giovanni Falcone, his wife and three police officers. A few weeks later judge Paolo Borsellino and five police officers were killed in the center of Palermo. These anti-mafia judges became heroes but the violence spread to the region of Bari in Puglia, where we meet a new, memorable character, Maresciallo Pietro Fenoglio, an officer of the Italian Carabinieri. Fenoglio, recently abandoned by his wife, must simultaneously deal with his personal crisis and the new gang wars raging around Bari. The police are stymied until a gang member, accused of killing a child, decides to collaborate, revealing the inner workings and the rules governing organised crime in the area.
The story is narrated through the actual testimony of the informant, a trope reminiscent of verbatim theatre which Carofiglio, an ex-anti-mafia judge himself, uses to great effect. The gangs are stopped but the mystery of the boy’s murder must still be solved, leading Fenoglio into a world of deep moral ambiguity, where the prosecutors are hard to distinguish from the prosecuted.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Cold Summer is based on a true story that took place in Italy in 1992. I’m uncertain how much, apart from the assassinations of the two judges, but it all felt believable.
I know nothing at all about the activities of the mafia in Italy nor their relationship with the police. It appeared that they had more power and were feared more than anybody else. The levels of corruption were staggering.
There are two sides to the novel. The investigation by the Carabinieri, in particular Fenoglio and Pellechia and an account by an informant who has been accused of having a hand in the kidnap and killing of Grimaldi’s son. This account is chilling, he goes into detail about his levels of progression through the hierarchy in the Mafia and also because it appears that to torture and kill is an everyday occurrence where remorse isn’t necessary. I have never read anything like this before and it did make me feel on edge.
I liked both Fenoglio and Pellechia, their relationship worked even though they were completely different. Fenoglio is above-board, not one to use violence or accept bribes. He has personal problems but has to put them to one side to deal with work. Pellechia is not as honest but he does acknowledge that he doesn’t always do the right thing. In some ways I preferred him, he was a lot easier to understand.
It was fascinating to read. It is one that I had to read slower than usual so I could absorb what was happening in the different layers, especially in the police investigation. Power and control and a total lack of disregard for anybody who worked on the side of law were basically ignored and not even the family of the kidnapped child would cooperate. I found it interesting that there was more focus on the ones who were on the periphery, the ones who knew how their lives could alter if they fell from favour.
This is the first book that I have read about the mafia and the first I have read by this author. I do plan on reading more of both soon.