The Deliverance of Evil Hardcover – Feb 11 2014
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"The Deliverance of Evil is a remarkably dark thriller which starts against the backdrop of Italy winning the World Cup in 1982 and concludes in 2006 just as they are about to be victorious again. A vicious murderer who first struck twenty-four years earlier is waiting to kill again. The author combines the plotting and pace of international crime with the poise and prowess of literary fiction, striating the narrative with topical political insight"―Ali Karim, Shotsmag
"[Constantini] delivers compelling drama... the gripping strength of the novel lies in its passionate portrayal of a corrupt and criminal Italy, from seedy traffickers to the Vatican."―Marcel Berlins, The Times
"[A] tale of personal and political corruption, expediency and revenge engages... Costantini has created a fascinating protagonist, first seen as a thirtysomething womaniser with fascist sympathies, and then as an older, sadder and wiser man, bent on making amends for past mistakes."―Laura Wilson, The Guardian
"[A] commanding debut thriller.... Costantini spins a politically charged, Machiavellian tale of fiendish complexity."―Publishers Weekly
"Utterly compelling"―Peter May, author of The Blackhouse
"The engaging Italian police procedural provides the audience with a fascinating psychological look at how ug...―
"Rich with fascinating political history, filled with brilliant psychological insight, and a nonstop thriller... Bravo!"―Jeffery Deaver, The October List
"Readers can immerse themselves in la dolce vita as Costantini's charismatic detective, Commissario Michele Balistreri, solves a complex mystery centered on the nature of evil.... Costantini tells an engrossing story of corruption and revenge, until near the end, when he kills off all the suspects, leaving little doubt as to the identity of the murderer."―Anna Creer, The Sidney Morning Herald
"In his debut Costantini has proven himself an absolute master."―Antonio D'Orrico, Corriere della Sera
"Crime stories offer a fine vehicle for state-of-the-nation investigations. Italy is more of a challenge than well-ordered Scandinavia, but Roberto Costantini rises to it with ease... sprawling, violent and beset by a tortured morality, this is a compelling vision of modern Italy."―Mail on Sunday
"Completely riveting... This is a take-no-prisoners view of a corrupt society and a guide on what it takes to survive and prosper. The detail of the police procedural is brilliantly managed and, as we get closer to the end, the thriller wattage increases with increasingly desperate police officers chasing their tails as bullets fly and a key person is kidnapped."―David Marshall, San Francisco Book Review
"Completely riveting... This is a take-no-prisoners view of a corrupt society and a guide on what it takes to survive and prosper. The detail of the police procedural is brilliantly managed and, as we get closer to the end, the thriller wattage increases with increasingly desperate police officers chasing their tails as bullets fly and a key person is kidnapped."―San Francisco Book Review
"An intricate and ambitious thriller that tells of our country and our times, of the tensions, madness, and its heartfelt humanity."―Elle (Italy)
"A promising debut... [a] complex crime novel that moves from savage murder to the political and social realities of contemporary Italy."―Kirkus Reviews
"The Deliverance of Evil is one of the most unusual (and successful) recent thrillers."―Antonio Gnoli, La Repubblica
About the Author
Roberto Costantini was born to Italian parents in Libya, where he spent the first eighteen years of his life. He was educated as a mechanical engineer, and also earned an MBA from Stanford University. After a thirty-year career working for American companies in many different countries, he is now a manager of the LUISS Guido Carli University in Rome, where he also teaches Leadership and Negotiation in the MBA program. The Deliverance of Evil is his first novel and the first in a planned trilogy, the second of which will focus on Michele Balistreri's adolescence in Libya during the rise of Gaddafi.See all Product Description
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What I dislike, however, is an author whose plot feels so out of control that I am constantly left bewildered and trying to puzzle things out. Costantini kicks this off with 150 pages revolving around an unsolved 1982 tragedy: the violent murder of young Elisa Sordi, a beautiful woman whom our main character, Roman cop Michele Balistreri, has lusted after and whose murder he fails to solve. Then we lurch forward in time, to 2005/2006, and meet Balistreri (whose tale is now -- inexplicably -- being told in the third person rather than the first person) trying to solve a series of other deaths. We're supposed to believe he feels guilty because he's jaded and exhausted -- but guilty about what? The author never makes this convincing. The number and nature of the crimes and suspects lead us all over the place, so I began feeling just as jaded as the fictional Balistreri, although my aversion to the tale could be directly linked to the lack of focus and uneven pacing. Every time I thought to myself, aha, this latest twist means that somehow these sprawling narratives will be tied up and we'll follow an interesting course to the end, the result was disappointing.
Eventually, I simply became fed up. I finished reading, but nothing in the solution -- which involved a lot of last minute twists that I find neither interesting nor convincing -- made me change my overall view of the book. I think you'd have to have a LOT of tolerance for implausible plot twists, and considerable patience as Balistreti agonizes over this, that and the other (can't really elucidate without offering up spoilers) to really enjoy the book. The author introduces characters at the drop of a hat, while others vanish from the narrative completely, even when they seem to be developing personal relationships with Balistreti's team.
Apparently, this is the first volume of a trilogy. If I do pick up a subsequent volume, it will be out of curiosity at the library; I don't want to be in a position where I have to read through another long and tedious crime novel (the latter adjective SHOULD be an oxymoron) simply because I have to review it. 2.5 stars, rounded up only because somewhere at the heart of this tome is an intriguing 350-page mystery just itching to get out.
We then flash forward 24 years to Italy's second win. Now weary with age and guilt, Balistreri has mellowed into an altogether different man. Further murders of women are being committed and he is convinced they are all linked. The narrative then drones on relentlessly with a skein of ridiculously far-fetched plot complications and pseudo-political digressions. Unfortunately, Balistreri lacks the charm of a Montalbano to carry this off and I found myself skipping lines, then paragraphs and then whole pages. When I reached the end, it felt like deliverance indeed.
Michele Balistreri is a character you might dislike in the first part of the novel, when he is a young and rebellious commissario who doesn't care much about justice, and thinks of his job as a way of passing the time until he decides what he truly wants to do with his life. The way he treats his job and the women he meets is revolting, but everything changes when the tortured dead body of the beautiful Elisa Sordi is found, and Michele makes the mistake of arresting the wrong person. This happens in 1982. 24 years later he is still haunted by this terrible mistake, and when two other girls are murdered in a similar manner, he vows that he won't let the killer escape him this time. He soon understands that what he is dealing with is much greater than what he expected: there might be personal motives behind the crimes, but there might also be a master plan of turning the entire Italy against the Roma people and the Romanians. Who would benefit from the rage and chaos provoked amongst the Italians? Why are the Secret Services involved? And what is the connection between the new murders and Elisa Sordi's unsolved case?
Roberto Costantini is a real master when it comes to character development and building up the suspense. He created an almost unsolvable puzzle in which every character's action and every small detail matters. There are so many people involved in this mystery, and there are so many leads, that the only thing the reader can do is give up trying to solve the case before Michele and his team, and devour the pages as fast as humanly possible. This is exactly what I did at some point, but I have to admit that in the final part of the novel I was stubborn enough to stop at every page and try to make sense of all the clues. It didn't work. Most of those involved in Elisa Sordi's case in 1982 were perfect suspects. There are secrets that are gradually revealed, details that Michele oversaw at first, and so many twists and turns that at some point it's difficult to keep up with everything.
"The Deliverance of Evil" is an incredible thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat. Aside from the fast-paced action and the masterfully built plot, the novel also touches on some important issues. Michele is a rational man who does not believe in God's justice. As one who read Nietzsche in his youth, he only believes in himself and his own capacity of making justice and deciding who is innocent and who must pay for their deeds according to his own cold, calculated logic. In truth, he is the one in search for redemption. Because he doesn't believe in the power of confession, the only way to atone for his immoral life is to avenge the death of the innocent victims, and save the last one. Eventually, "The Deliverance of Evil" is a book that emphasizes how prejudices and racism can lead to wrong decisions, and cause more rage and hatred. People's opinions can be easily manipulated by those who have higher interests, so, maybe, we should take some time once in a while to ask ourselves if the ideas we have about a certain matter, certain people, or certain nationalities truly belong to us, or were adopted from the outside.
Roberto Costantini's book will not only take you on a wild ride of mystery, intrigue and conspiracy, but will also raise some thought-provoking questions.
After reading this book, I am ashamed to admit that I hadn't heard of this author before Book Depository offered me an ARC for Review purpose. Shame really, to have not known about such an amazing author.
It took me sometime to really get into the book because Michele Balistreri is a difficult character to like. His mentality and attitude towards the beginning was practically revolting. He came across as this careless and haughty young man whose attitude toward his work and towards women in general made me want smack him on the head till he had some new perspective. Ironically, it was the death of a woman that started to bring in the change in him. By the time we get reacquainted to Michele in 2006, he has matured a lot making it easier to like him.
The plot is amazing. A murder in 1982 is connected to murders in 2006 - both sets happen around the time when Italy won the football world cup. The similarities are undeniable and Michele conscience has been killing him for arresting the wrong person the first time round. But then there's more to it than meets the eye in this case. A conspiracy that can rock the people of his nation and also enter the Secret Services to rock the already rocky boat!
The author has a great style of writing and character build up. As a reader I had a great time with the love-hate relationship with Michele. It was like I was in the book - living it. Of course some credit also goes to the translator N.S.Thompson for his exemplary work and input. I in turn suspected each character while I kept turning the pages.
I got half way thru and just said: No, can't do it.
Maybe this book delivers, in the end. Clearly, it did for some readers. Not for me.
More than the need for editing, to me, was the need for a main character who was interesting and held some appeal. Perhaps I'm spoiled by Donna Leon's Brunetti and the wonderful Inspector Montalbano stories by Andrea Camilliari.