Reasonable Doubts Paperback – Oct 1 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In this philosophical, quirky legal thriller set in Bari, Italy, attorney Guido Guerrieri (last seen in A Walk in the Dark) is in the throes of midlife malaise when he gets an unexpected and seemingly impossible case. Fabio Paolicelli asks Guerrieri to represent him in his appeal on a drug smuggling conviction that led to a 16-year prison sentence. Despite his confession, which Paolicelli says he made to spare his lovely half-Japanese wife, Natsu Kawabata, from being convicted along with him, he's convinced he was set up—and that his first lawyer, Corrado Macrì, was part of the conspiracy. Guerrieri is reluctant to take the case, but he does so for a host of mostly bad reasons, not the least of which is Kawabata's beauty. The mystery plot intrigues, but Guerrieri truly commands the reader's attention with his unflinching awareness of his own failings and his thoughtful musings on life and the law. (Oct.)
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'New and returning readers who enjoy an intelligent, thoughtful, and dedicated lawyer hero or a moderately paced legal thriller are sure to savor the latest entry in the Guerrieri series.' Booklist
The legal thriller aspects are fascinating and cleverly devised, but that takes a back seat to the deep look at the ethics of the middle age attorney Guido. Readers will appreciate his realizations and rationalizations as he ponders between the best and worst defenses. Few sub-genre tales contain a better protagonist as he makes the tale worth reading with his fresh somewhat cynical spin.' MBR Book Watch
'The role of the Bari-based lawyer Guido Guerrieri is to take on impossible cases that have little chance of success. In Reasonable Doubts, by Gianrico Carofiglio, translated by Howard Curtis, his client is appealing against his conviction and lengthy sentence for drug smuggling; he's also a former neo-fascist thug who had once beaten up Guerrieri. The lawyer accepts the case only because he's fallen in lust with the prisoner's wife; his efforts to prove his client's innocence bring him intodangerous conflict with Mafia interests. Everything a legal thriller should be.' The Times
" --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
The plot is fine, the characters likable. A good book.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The story then unfolds relatively straightforwardly, as Guerrieri examines the details of the original case and does a little digging with the unofficial help of a few old acquaintances. As in many European crime novels, the hero/protagonist is somewhat of a loner, and spends a good portion of the book drifting around the streets of the city (by bike!) ruminating on his empty life, eating, and drinking. Adding to Guerrieri's woes is his self-loathing when he falls all too easily into bed with his client's exotically beautiful wife. A further complication is the lawyer's secret past with his client -- as a teen, the client was a fascist thug who was part of a gang who assaulted Guerrieri, an event the client doesn't appear to recall. These latter two elements don't add a great deal to the story, especially the teenage connection, which leads nowhere and ultimately serves little purpose. Yet despite the relatively unoriginal plotline, there's a certain tone to the story that makes it quite compelling. Definitely not a great book, but good enough to make me want to go back and read Guerrieri's earlier cases (Involuntary Witness, A Walk in the Dark).
Is Paolicelli a dupe of the Mafia or a mule in its employ? We will never know for sure, but Guido works hard to get him off, steering between his lusty interest in the all too willing Natsu, his desire to get even with her husband, who may or may not have been part of a gang that beat Guido up in his teens, and his trademark interest in taking on the impossible case.
It makes for a very interesting mix of insight into the Italian legal system and the conflicting motives of a very talented and conflicted lawyer. While trying to do the right thing, Guido suborns the theft of confidential files and misleads witnesses into revealing the truth, despite themselves. His adventures with Natsu would subject him to discipline in my jurisdiction. Somehow he comes through it all seeming like a terrific guy. He even has an interest in boxing. An amateur boxer himself, he remembers the "rumble in the jungle," the epic match in Zaire between Muhammad Ali and the hapless George Foreman. Quite the Renaissance defense attorney.
This is a very satisfying read. I am sorry that Counselor Carofiglio has only written four books in the series. They are thoughtful, fun and informative.
The storyline is easygoing with nice bits of tension mixed in. A great light read that would make a great film.
While every aspect of "Reasonable Doubts" is colored by Guerrieri's struggle to stay professional in the management of the case, the novel is also a skillfully presented police or legal procedural that reconstructs the basics of the case and ends with a masterful courtroom presentation by protagonist Guerreri.
One big plus for this reader of "Reasonable Doubts" was the relative absence of the all-encompassing cynicism about the Italian justice system that is often part and parcel of other mysteries set in that country. Author Carofiglio, an anti-Mafia prosecutor in Southern Italy, has not lost all confidence in the Italian rule of law.
Overall, this is a well-written and translated novel that respects readers' intelligence and gives them a bit of a challenge. Highly recommended.
Guerrieri hesitates as he feels the appeal will fail because Fabio confessed, the man's past as a Fascist punk offers no redeeming quality to build from, and there is no lucid motive to forge a conspiracy to lock him away. However, upon meeting the exotic half-Japanese Natsu, Guido agrees to represent Fabio. As he constructs the defense, Guido cannot resist Natsu's lure even though he knows this is a morally wrong conflict of interest; they make love. If Fabio ever finds out and is freed from prison it could prove dangerous to his lawyer, who begins to wonder if he should throw the case too.
The legal thriller aspects are fascinating and cleverly devised, but that takes a back seat to the deep look at the ethics of the middle age attorney Guido. Readers will appreciate his realizations and rationalizations as he ponders between the best and worst defenses. Few sub-genre tales contain a better protagonist as he makes the tale worth reading with his fresh somewhat cynical spin (see INVOLUNTARY WITNESS).