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The Dogs of Rome: A Commissario Alec Blume Novel (The Alec Blume Novels) Paperback – May 17, 2011
In this accomplished and riveting thriller, police inspector Alec Blume battles organized crime, political pressure, and his own demons as he investigates the death of Arturo Clemente. Blume, a clever American expatriate with a disposition against authority, soon realizes that he is being watched from on high. Forced to negotiate with powerful, suspicious people on all sides of the law, Blume must rely on instinct, drive, and luck to find the killer.
The Dogs of Rome is both a thrilling detective story and a vision of underground Rome. Blume is a perfect hero for this story: intelligent but flawed, cynical but unafraid. He is a trustworthy and compelling protagonist for this first installment in a gritty and promising series.
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“A sizzling-hot debut that deftly weaves together corrupt politicians, organized crime, and centuries-old tradition.” ―Entertainment Weekly
“All of the players in the novel come across as completely believable, because the author avoids the stereotypical, and emphasizes the quirkiness in both large and small characters. The fast-moving plot has several interesting twists, and the tone is tongue-in-cheek. This is the first in a series of Commissario Blume novels, and anyone who reads this one will be looking forward to the next.” ―San Francisco Book Review
“Guaranteed to whet the thirst of international crime fiction fans. This promising debut is reminiscent of early Michael Dibdin, and that is more than enough to put Fitzgerald's series on your radar.” ―Booklist
“Impressively plotted…those who like gritty crime thrillers with a European flair will be well rewarded.” ―Publishers Weekly
“Commissario Blume is the most appealing detective to come along in years. His genius is that he isn't a hero or an anti-hero, but the kind of living, breathing human being that you only find in the very best novels, detective or otherwise. The Dogs of Rome is an irresistible and wholly original piece of crime fiction.” ―Joe Weisberg, author of An Ordinary Spy and Tenth Grade
About the Author
Conor Fitzgerald has lived in Ireland, the UK, the United States and Italy. He has worked as an arts editor, produced a current affairs journal for foreign embassies based in Rome, and founded a successful translation company. He is married with two children and still lives in Rome.
- ASIN : 1608190544
- Publisher : Bloomsbury USA; Reprint edition (May 17, 2011)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 400 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9781608190546
- ISBN-13 : 978-1608190546
- Item Weight : 12.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.39 x 1.03 x 8.29 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #4,707,460 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #251,378 in Mysteries (Books)
- #285,074 in Thrillers & Suspense (Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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Author Fitzgerald's protagonist in the novel is Alec Blume; an odd duck in an Italian crime novel as he is an American/Italian who has risen to a senior position (Commissario) within the Roman police force. Blume is a guy with a lot of the usual personal baggage that cops in literature carry, but also, in the Italian context, he is very much like his fictional confreres Montalvano, Brunetti, Zin, etc. in that he is an uncorrupted civil servant operating in a political and professional context that is irredeemably corrupted and entirely disrespected by public that he serves.
The great strength of this debut novel is its wonderful characters--primary and secondary. Fitzgerald has some great insights into human nature as well as some talent for conjuring up extreme--even psychopathic--personalities and tossing them together to get some wild interaction. A secondary theme of this book is the inhumane treatment of animals--specifically dogs trained for fighting. The brutality and utter nastiness of that crime is presented without varnish here, although the obvious poetic justice of revenge by the misused animals is sidestepped by the author. Still, he makes a direct and eloquent point on this especially heinous crime.
"Dogs of Rome" is an excellent book and a pleasurable read. It's good to see another talented writer out there using the always interesting Italy and Italians as the core of a book. I hope that we'll hear a lot more from Fitzgerald and Commissario Blume. Highly recommended.
Since most of the detective novels that I read take place in the United States it was definitely enjoyable to get a different perspective and soak in some culture. Fitzgerald does a good job of giving the reader some local color by infusing Italian dialogue and proper names of foods in addition to places of interest in Rome and the surrounding area. However at the same time I do think that the book was bogged down by unnecessary details. As I mentioned before, I found the pace acceptable, but there definitely was an infusion of extemporaneous descriptions that did not enhance any plot elements in the story- I dropped the book a star for that.
This book appears to me to more of a character study rather than an action packed European adventure so if you are looking for more of a Daniel Silva type novel you will be disappointed. If you like detection novels, interested in politics within a police force and appreciate the process of finding a killer you will like this book. Note: While not necessary centered around the world of dog fighting, it is still a relevant topic in the story, so for some I could imagine that certain plot elements may anger a reader.
It is first and foremost a crackling mystery story, with all kinds of unexpected twists, turns, screw-ups and redemptions, and even a surprisingly useful love interest. It is going to make a great movie too - remember you read that here when it comes out and you are standing in line to see it, even though you know how it ends!
The main character, a detective with the Rome police, is an insider, in that he is completely assimilated as a Roman, can jabber away in Roman dialect, and so on. But he is also a perpetual outsider, because he is originally from somewhere else, the other cops won't let him forget it, and in any case he himself doesn't really want to forget it. (He also doesn't have a family, let alone an extended family network, which as far as I can see is the key to survival in Italy...) This gives him a perspective on Rome and Italian life that almost no one else has - and that is interesting.
(In fact, the fact that the story is set in Rome isn't just an exotic backdrop. It changes everything, gives it layers of social and moral and political compromise that you almost never find in a detective novel. Makes you lean in and pay attention!)
The last thing I'll say is that the book is naturally funny. I think it comes from the unique perspectives on life that the characters have, but I don't want to think about it too much because I laughed out loud several times, I'm expecting there'll be at least one sequel - and I want to get lost in the sequel like I did with this one, not try to analyze why I'm laughing as I'm laughing!
The Dogs of Rome: A Commissario Alec Blume Novel
Top reviews from other countries
Anyhow, if you buy such a book you should know what to expect and this doesn't disappoint.
Larger than life crime figures have always featured in Italian life and probably still do if their politicians are anything to go by, so when a rather low profile man is brutally murdered who just happens to be the lover of the daughter of a crime boss, you just kbow where this will take you - and it does.
Along the way, however, we do get a character in American/Italian Commissario, Alec Blume, pushing forty, unmarried, dedicated to his job and determined, against the odds, to discover just who did bump off the man in question.
This, of course, despite orders from on high (no, not that high) to pin the blame on another criminal and bring the matter to a speedy conclusion. Naturally, Blume doesn't take this lying down though he does spend a day or two in hospital thanks to a car chase gone badly wrong; so wrong that it leads to the death of a rookie cop. Matters are made worse when Blume's sort-of trusted partner admits to being in close contact with the criminals for all the wrong reasons.
There is much development of the peripherals of life in Rome so you either like this or you don't but, as I opined above, this book is little different from others so you should know what to expect. Assuming you do like this approach to crime fighting in Italy, then the book works pretty well. The author does a good job with the humour of the storytelling and the development of the hunt for the killer, though it is the killer who is less easy to understand in the narrative.
Since dogs feature in this story and Blume, for whatever reasons, hates dogs, the closing chapters are a little hard to understand unless it was a chance for the author to tell us about certain fighting dogs; I'm not sure. Anyway, Blume is rather keen on a female FBI agent currently working in Italy who is very keen on dogs but more importantly for Blume, is rather more adept at dealing with thugs than he is. This doesn't sit straight but it makes for a progression of the story. I'm hoping in the second book, Blume's character will have straightened itself out so maybe his trip back to the States will help. We shall see.
In the end the novel was as much about Alex Blume and the characters he encountered in his professional life as it was about the investigation of a murder. I had the feeling the author was lining his readers up for a succession of Alex Blume novels by introducing all the significant players and leaving the door open for romance. The most one dimensional character in my opinion, was the enigmatic 'girlfriend', no doubt intending to propel readers toward the next novel where more will be made of the relationship. As per my review title, to get the most out of the book you must be prepared to continue with the Alec Blume series.
When an animal rights activist (inconveniently married to a well connected Italian Senator), is found murdered in his Rome apartment, senior officials demand the speedy arrest of a small time crook.
Commissioner Alec Blume is sure that the evidence points to a new kid on the block - one who doesn't play by the usual rules. Blume does a little rule breaking of his own as he tracks down the killer through a labyrinthine web of politics, corruption, organised crime and personal ambitions.
This is an absolutely cracking novel. It has more twists and turns that the back streets of Rome, but never goes off at a tangent. Characterisation is excellent and Alec Blume is totally credible as a basically good detective who occasionally takes his eye off the ball and has to live with the, sometimes terrible, consequences.
Happily, the second Alec Blume novel the is already available.
Rome, a city I know a bit, is traveled in ways you very likely will never get a chance to experience, but someone surely has. She lays her outer regions open to us, the touristic centers be damned. It must be such a temptation to place a crime in the historic center, because everyone knows it, right? But Fitzgerald skirts the Forum and leaves it to Lindsay Davis. He, instead, pulls you through the residential modern Rome, where it must be said, lots more crime really happens compared to splashy Roma which crawls with visitors at all hours.
The protagonist is an expatriate American cum Roman cop. I haven't fully understood yet his civic standing, which in Italy counts and can alter a life. I expect to learn more as the series winds on, and I do plan to read every single book, or at least the ones which are published in my lifetime.
The characters are people you meet if you live in Italy, with the hangups, gifts, attitudes and fears of real Italians. I cannot tell you how satisfying it feels to read a book peopled with real instead of stereotyped characters.
Even the plot is realistically Italian. Is justice served? An Italian justice is on the plate, although the plate may have been left on a trolley in a dark corner. Bad people died. Good people died. Money went missing. Politics lay all over every dawn and sunset. Sex happened, love did not. In Italy that's the way it ends.
Someone is reported dead in a move that surprised me, because the someone could be a menace and a boon to Blume in future, but Blume never saw her dead, so who knows?
I really loved this book, and even more because I knew it was the first of many. Buy it. You will be so pleased you did.