Top critical review
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Interesting setting and voice, Run of the mill story
on April 29, 2002
Although his ten previous books have been widely translated into French and German, this slim thriller marks Italian author Lucarelli's first appearance in English. The book is one of three in a series starring female Detective Grazia Negro, a member of a special task force on serial killers not unlike the FBI team portrayed in Silence of the Lambs. She is brought from Rome to help track down a serial killer preying on university students in Bologna. Her one good lead comes from a blind man who sits in his room all day listening to an array of scanners picking up cell phone conversations, police scanners, and whatnot. The story alternates three first-person narratives: the detective's, the blind man's, and the killer's. The detective and killer's threads are fairly straightforward and what you might expect (she's tough but gets no respect from anyone, and he's mad mad mad) however Lucarelli's ability to take you into the blind man's world of "colored" voices is excellent.
However, once you get past the novelty of the blind assistant, and the excellent translation which conveys his world, the story is fairly run of the mill. There's a frisson of love/sex which comes across as unnecessary, and, as with most serial killer stories, the underlying motivation for the killings isn't really intriguing, and the hero is always one step behind the killer until the climactic showdown. However, the book does paint a decently grimy portrait of the seedier side of Bologna, and it's a quick read, so I'd say it's worth checking out. It was made into an Italian film which, as of this writing, has not made it to video stores in the US.