Join us

Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
Newsletter

Globe and Mail: "Europa brings us some of the best European crime literature in excellent translations, and this novel, by Italian master Starnone, is one of the best short books you'll find this year."

Date: Apr 7 2009

Europa brings us some of the best European crime literature in excellent translations, and this novel, by Italian master Starnone, is one of the best short books you'll find this year.

Domenico Stasi is a retired teacher, a widower and a doting father. When his favourite former student, Nina, is arrested and accused of terrorism, he contacts her family. They seem to feel that he might have been responsible for Nina's subversive thoughts. Then Nina is released. "They have nothing on me" she brags.

She is contemptuous of her old teacher's ideals and sets him a task, one that she can't do because the police are watching: Go to an empty apartment, find a particular book, copy down a marked passage, give it to a man who will ask. Simple. And Stasi agrees in order to maintain some degree of status with this angry young woman.

That simple opening leads Stasi into a pit. That much we expect, but what's unexpected is the way Starnone builds the suspense, and, like Beatrice leading Dante through the levels of Hell, he takes us along to the centre.

This brief novel can be read in an afternoon, and it's irresistible once you start.