cover image When the Dead Awaken

When the Dead Awaken

Steffen Jacobsen, trans. from the Danish by Charlotte Barslund. Quercus, $26.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-62365-868-7

Danish author Jacobsen makes his U.S. debut with this absorbing look at the murderous world of the Camorra, the Neapolitan crime family. When a shipyard container accidentally offloads its cargo of corpses, most of the dead turn out to be trafficked Chinese workers, but assistant public prosecutor Sabrina D’Avalos also learns that among the bodies are the wife and 12-year-old son of inventor Giulio Forlani. Camorra agents killed Forlani years earlier for developing an anticounterfeiting device for the fashion industry, which threatened to put a serious crimp in the group’s bustling bootleg rag trade. As Sabrina inches closer to the culprits, she must navigate a roster of bad guys sent from the Camorra’s Terrasino clan, including the notorious Urs Savelli, whose walking stick, Sabrina’s boss warns her, sounds “like a chisel against a gravestone.” Astute asides on the corrupt state of Italian law and order, as well as old-fashioned espionage methods and a dose of rough sex, add to this expertly choreographed thriller. (Jan.)