A wonderfully suspenseful novel in which de Giovanni restores life to the cliché of the world-weary detective.
Inspector Giuseppe Lojacono has been tainted with rumors that he informed on the Mafia, so he’s transferred from Sicily to Naples to work a desk job, which for him consists of playing online poker. But a methodical serial killer is on the loose and Lojacono’s bumbling colleagues have no idea how to solve the case, so they have no choice but to turn to him for help. Particularly eager to help solve the mystery behind the murders is the attractive, no-nonsense Assistant District Attorney Laura Piras. She slowly develops confidence that Lojacono is the only one who’ll be able to catch the murderer, dubbed “The Crocodile” by the media because he seems a ruthless killing machine. Three murders have recently been committed, each of the victims an only child of a single parent, and that seems to Lojacono to be a significant clue. His colleagues on the police force seem to think the Mafia-like Camorra might be responsible, though Lojacono knows the M.O. of the Camorristas and doesn’t see a connection. The psychologically shrewd inspector eventually concludes that the children murdered are perhaps not the “real” victims but that the killer is trying to get revenge on the parents in a twisted and horrifying way. Although estranged from his adolescent daughter, Lojacono has a father’s sense that the worst possible pain that can be inflicted on a parent is the death of a child, so he methodically starts to look for connections among the parents of the three victims, and eventually, he uncovers a bond...but he also finds another potential victim: a 6-month-old infant.
In this crisply translated novel, de Giovanni explores Lojacono’s loneliness and vulnerability while simultaneously revealing his brilliance as a detective.