In an era when Scandinavian mystery/crime writers have been the focus of readers' admiration comes Italian Maurizio de Giovanni (and a few compatriots), with some really marvelous writing, pushing the genre up into the literature category, without sacrifice of dynamic storyline, police procedural or strong ending.
De Giovanni has recently made a name for himself with the terrific Commissario Ricciardi series set in 1931 Naples. By contrast, "The Crocodile" takes place in contemporary times (still in Naples) and with a different protagonist. Police work and storyline are strongly affected by electronic communication and rapid research. At the same time, the major strength of book remains the very colorful and human characters that the author has crafted. This is something that distinguishes his Ricciardi series as well.
"The Crocodile" is the fairly straightforward--if quite dark--tale of a serial killer at work. The local cops follow the default (for Naples) theory that it's the Neapolitan mafia disciplining its members and/or customers. Inspector Giuseppe Lojacono, an administrative exile from Sicily, is inadvertently dragged into the investigation and rejects the mafia theory, suggesting something more sinister and personal. He convinces the lead investigator that the rising number of victims are connected through their families, and the rest of the story becomes a race to stop further check-offs of the anticipated victim list.
For me, this was mystery writing at its highest level. Great characters, spare but rich and intelligent language and appropriate ending. Di Giovanni is a writer to be cherished and encouraged. Highly recommended.
Why no voting buttons? We don't let customers vote on their own reviews, so the voting buttons appear only when you look at reviews submitted by others.