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Involuntary Witness (Guido Guerrieri Novels) [Paperback]

Gianrico Carofiglio
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
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Book Description

11 Mar 2010 Guido Guerrieri Novels
A nine-year-old boy is found murdered at the bottom of a well near a popular beach resort in southern Italy. In what looks like a hopeless case for Guido Guerreri, counsel for the defence, a Senegalese peddler is accused of the crime. Faced with small-town racism fuelled by recent immigration from Africa, Guido attempts to exploit the esoteric workings of the Italian courts.

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Involuntary Witness (Guido Guerrieri Novels) + Walk in the Dark, A (Guido Guerrieri) + Reasonable Doubts (Guido Guerrieri Series)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 274 pages
  • Publisher: BITTER LEMON PRESS (11 Mar 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1904738524
  • ISBN-13: 978-1904738527
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 309,672 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Raises the standard for crime fiction. Carofiglio's deft touch has given us a story that is both literary and gritty - and one that speeds along like the best legal thrillers. His insights into human nature - good and bad - are breathtaking." Jeffery Deaver A powerful redemptive novel beautifully translated.A" Daily Mail A stunner. Guerrieri is a wonderfully convincing character; morose, but seeing the absurdity of his gloomy life, his vulnerability and cynicism laced with self-deprecating humour. It is the veracity of the setting and the humanity of the lawyer that makes the novel a courtroom drama of such rare quality.A" The Times

About the Author

Gianrico Carofiglio now a member of the Senate in Italy was an anti-Mafia prosecutor in Bari, a port on the coast of Puglia. He has been involved with trials concerning corruption, organized crime and the traffic in human beings. He is a best-selling author of crime novels, literary fiction and most recently has authored a graphic novel illustrated by his brother. A fourth Guerrieri novel is in the works.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent example of the genre 28 Oct 2006
By Maxine Clarke VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Guido Guerrieri's marriage is on the rocks and he's a corrupt lawyer, representing people whom he despises for the money. From the Sartre-like pit of existential despair when it all goes wrong, Guerrieri's life begins to turn around when he is finessed into taking on the defence of a Sengalese man, a beach-peddler accused of murdering a small boy. The "Mockingbird" court case plays out in parallel with Guerrieri's spiritual rehabilitation and redemption.

I loved this fast-paced and compelling story. Not only for all the above reasons, but because of its sense of place. I've written before about placeism, and in that context of how John Grisham, although usually weak on plot, excels at conveying it. Carofiglio's Bari is in the same mould --- the details of life in this small Italian town illuminate the eternal dramatic themes. And it is good on plot, too.

This is a perfect miniature of a book --much shorter than Grisham, and all the better for it.
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60 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Murder on the beaches of Apulia 14 July 2005
Apulia is hailed as the new Tuscany. This region, where I come from, is the heel of the Italian boot. We have a long tradition of writers, musicians etc but Carofiglio is the real McCoy. His books are beautufully written with a mix of irony, suspense and mystery. It reminded me of Dibdin (perhaps because of the setting) but Carofiglio is more gritty. Carofiglio himself is an excellent CPS and his legal background is obvious in his novels. If you want your hero to be a lawyer with a penchant for food, Dire Straits, occasional sex and on the mend from a broken heart... here is your book!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a good holiday read as not remotely demanding 3 April 2010
The plot in this book seems flimsy at best - the whole legal side of it is a reworking of "12 Angry Men" and one wonders about the state of the Italian legal system if the original charge sheet could really result in someone being put in jail for life without any hard evidence.

That said, if you suspend belief about the main legal plot it is an enjoyable read.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Soft-boiled and......boring! 23 Sep 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Well, perhaps we should start with what this book isn't: it isn't a crime thriller, it has no conceivable connection with either John Grisham or Twelve Angry Men, and whoever described it as 'a cracking courtroom drama' is very easily pleased.
What it is is a very self-indulgent meander through the ups and downs of depression with a side plot on the same about alcoholism. Because the protagonist happens to be a lawyer, and because the last section contains an almost unreadably boring defence speech, it has been labelled by some reviewers as a courtroom drama.
So why did I buy it? Because of the other reviews in Amazon and because it got a cracking newspaper review "my favourite crime thriller". Really?
Which brings me to an interesting point. I had a look at the "all my other reviews" section of the other reviewers, and I have learnt something.
Before buying a book based on Amazon reviews, just check out the other reviews submitted by the people giving 5 stars. It's a very revealing resource, and all praise to Amazon for giving us this chance to avoid making mistakes like mine in the future.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I agree that the atmosphere and characters are good. But honestly, this is a short story stretched to the dimensions of a novel. It is amusing to see the author try every trick to fill the pages.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring 9 May 2012
This is NOT a thriller/whodunnit. If you're looking for such a book, don't read this one. The involuntary witness is not the nine year-old boy that's found murdered at the bottom of a well.

Central figure is an attorney who takes on a seemingly hopeless case of a Senegalese accused of murdering a nine-year old boy.
The attorney is a mess at the beginning at the book due to his sudden divorce, his conscience towards fair justice leaves something to be desired and the book is mainly about his journey towards good mental health and a sence of justice be done.

As a result only about a third of the book concerns the case for which he is hired. The rest is all about the I-person: me, me, ME!!! Even while the court procedings are going on, the story frequently comes to a complete stand-still when he meets yet another person of his past, which contributes nothing to the story, which gives no noticable depth to the central character and which holds up the story. Characters come, appear to be set up to fit within the story and then are gone without leaving a trace. A potentially interesting lady like Abajaje, the woman who initially contacts the main character to defend the Senegalese, is written out of the story that way.

As a result I was so bored that by the time the great climax of the book arrives (the crucial speech which turns the favour of the judges and which hinges on the principle of an 'involuntary witness') I just flicked through the pages glancing at passages here and there.

The author uses the most gruesome of crimes -the murder of a child- to build his story upon and then does NOTHING with it. The police asks no questions, they're just bent on finding a culprit and dumping him in jail for life.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The book climaxes with a double whammy 7 Mar 2010
Somehow it is no surprise that the writer of this beautifully judged debut novel (a major seller in Italy), as well as being a prosecuting magistrate in Bari, southern Italy, is also a skilled juggler. For the novel brings off, superlatively, the difficult task of delivering not only an effective (if low-key) legal thriller but also a humane and convincing character study of a man undergoing what, for want of a better phrase, might be termed a mid-life crisis.
As the book opens, we find the married 38 year-old defence lawyer Guido Guerrieri lazily demanding (and getting) a fistful of notes from a street trader whose hamburger van ('hygienic condictions inside it were pretty much those of the sewers of Benares') has been confiscated by the authorities. 'Please don't give me the ones with mayonnaise stains' he prays silently. Later that evening his wife informs him that she is leaving. It is already clear that Guido has been off the rails for some time.
But, thanks be, though Guido has his share of Italian macho, the odd girlfriend on the side for instance, this is some distance from the mid-life crisis as conventionally portrayed. Of course he tries various conventional remedies: alcohol, more women a less conventional psychiatrist and meditation. But it is not until, early in the book, the case of Abdou Thiam, Senegalese beach trader, comes to his attention that Guido's mood of self-absorption really begins to lift. Abdou is accused of the murder of a nine year-old boy found at the bottom of a local well. The case is detailed and circumstantial, but under interrogation Abdou has contradicted himself; it seems that he would be well advised to take the 'shortened procedure' route available under Italian law, ie to plead guilty in return for a reduced sentence.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a huge impact.
This made so little impression on me I can't even remember reading it. Apparently I did, and at least I didn't hate it.
Published 1 month ago by Ms. Fiona Allen
5.0 out of 5 stars No thriller, but I loved it for what it was
Far from being a 'thriller', 'crime' or 'courtroom drama', this was a sedate ramble through the personal and working life of a small-town lawyer. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Wobbly Wellies
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
This book reminds me of another novel 'They don't want us here' by Kevin Watson set in England leafy Perton. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Diamonds67
5.0 out of 5 stars Involuntary Witness,
The book captures the imagination and is compulsive reading - I could not put it down. Can't wait to read more in the series. Earthy and pithy.
Published 23 months ago by jonjen
5.0 out of 5 stars Start to a brilliant series
Suspense, atmosphere, relationships, this the first of a thoroughly believable short series of books about a small time lawyer in a town in Italy. Read more
Published on 27 Sep 2012 by What_happens_next
4.0 out of 5 stars laid back defence
I've just come across this author, didn't read any prior reviews and am interested to note now the variance of those reviews. Read more
Published on 1 Mar 2012 by Michael Watson
1.0 out of 5 stars Has Carofiglio actually ever been to Italy?
Picture the scene...

Our hero is invited to a romantic dinner with his beautiful new neighbour in the city of Bari, Southern Italy. Read more
Published on 19 Feb 2012 by AES
5.0 out of 5 stars Italian crime writers
The quality of many Italian "crime" writers (a pity that the only novels written by Andrea Camilleri that seem to have been translated into English/American are the crime ones... Read more
Published on 5 Jun 2011 by Helen Cramer
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