Carte Blanche by Carlo Lucarelli,
translated by Michael Reynolds
(Europa Editions, £8.99)
Italian crime writing is going through a particularly exciting period, with fascinating and innovative books appearing from Rome, Turin, Bologna, Sicily and across the peninsula. Two of Lucarelli's dark, jazz- and rock-tinged Bologna police novels have already been translated to deserved acclaim, but this opening book in a trilogy featuring "good cop" Commissario De Luca reveals further depths to his talent. Set in the final days of the second world war, the emphasis is on a murder investigation that parallels the fall of the Salo fascist regime. It incisively reveals the anatomy of right-wing evil, corruption and misdeeds as a nation seeks new moral bearings, as seen through the eyes of a disillusioned sleuth. However serious the clash between private ethics and political power, Lucarelli never loses his perspective on human nature and its frailties, and I look forward to the next two instalments in De Luca's journey through a changing Italy.
by Maxim Jakubowski