cover image The Crocodile

The Crocodile

Maurizio de Giovanni, trans. from the Italian by Antony Shugaar. Europa (Penguin, dist.), $17 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-60945-119-6

De Giovanni (I Will Have Vengeance) manages to conjure up the terrifying darkness at the heart of a serial killer in this chilling procedural. A mob informant’s false accusation of corruption against Sicilian Insp. Giuseppe Lojacono not only derails a promising career but destroys his relationship with his wife and daughter. Exiled to Naples, to a police station “in the flabby belly of a city that was decomposing,” Lojacono spends his working days playing computer poker. He gets a chance to exercise his dormant gray cells when a gunman kills a 16-year-old boy, and the detective, one of the first on the scene, notices that the killer left behind some used tissues. Still, he’s shunted to the sidelines, until another death follows, and his theory that this death isn’t related to organized crime attracts the interest of the investigating prosecutor. Descriptions of the police probe alternate with sections written from the murderer’s viewpoint, effectively heightening the suspense, and the ending doesn’t pull any punches. (July)