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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mondo cane--an American commissario in Rome
Irish author and Rome resident, Conor Fitzgerald, has produced a first-rate crime novel in "The Dogs of Rome." Ultimately this story of a series of murders and other seemingly unrelated criminal activities are all revealed to be in the unavoidable gravitational pull of organized crime. "Dogs..." opens with a seemingly unrelated murder of an animal rights activist married...
Published on 16 Oct 2011 by Blue in Washington

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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Promising but fizzles out into disappointment.
As someone who long ago tired of American based crime fiction, it was with some doubts that I selected this given Blume's American background but I was swayed by the reviews and comparison with Dibdin. Is Blume the new Zen? In short, no. He is not engaging like Zen, just a boring, humourless, goodie two shoes character (other than rebelliously leaving his dog's deposit in...
Published on 17 May 2011 by Barbuto ma quasi calvo


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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mondo cane--an American commissario in Rome, 16 Oct 2011
By 
Blue in Washington "Barry Ballow" (Washington, DC United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Dogs of Rome: An Alec Blume Novel (Commissario Alec Blume 1) (Paperback)
Irish author and Rome resident, Conor Fitzgerald, has produced a first-rate crime novel in "The Dogs of Rome." Ultimately this story of a series of murders and other seemingly unrelated criminal activities are all revealed to be in the unavoidable gravitational pull of organized crime. "Dogs..." opens with a seemingly unrelated murder of an animal rights activist married to a Green Party politician. The victim is struck down in his Roman apartment by an oddly detached and disorganized killer. The tale moves forward through a long and character-rich police procedural that eventually winds up at the foot of a mob boss who sits astride every character's lifeline like an Italian version of Jabba the Hutt (a bit of a metaphorical stretch maybe, but you get the image.)

Author Fitzgerald's protagonist in the novel is Alec Blume; an odd duck in an Italian crime novel as he is an American/Italian who has risen to a senior position (Commissario) within the Roman police force. Blume is a guy with a lot of the usual personal baggage that cops in literature carry, but also, in the Italian context, he is very much like his fictional confreres Montalbano, Brunetti, Zen, etc. in that he is an uncorrupted civil servant operating in a political and professional context that is irredeemably corrupted and entirely disrespected by public that he serves.

The great strength of this debut novel is its wonderful characters--primary and secondary. Fitzgerald has some great insights into human nature as well as some talent for conjuring up extreme--even psychopathic--personalities and tossing them together to get some wild interaction. A secondary theme of this book is the inhumane treatment of animals--specifically dogs trained for fighting. The brutality and utter nastiness of that crime is presented without varnish here, although the obvious poetic justice of revenge by the misused animals is sidestepped by the author. Still, he makes a direct and eloquent point on this especially heinous crime.

"Dogs of Rome" is an excellent book and a pleasurable read. It's good to see another talented writer out there using the always interesting Italy and Italians as the core of a book. I hope that we'll hear a lot more from Fitzgerald and Commissario Blume. Highly recommended.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Promising but fizzles out into disappointment., 17 May 2011
This review is from: The Dogs of Rome: An Alec Blume Novel (Commissario Alec Blume 1) (Paperback)
As someone who long ago tired of American based crime fiction, it was with some doubts that I selected this given Blume's American background but I was swayed by the reviews and comparison with Dibdin. Is Blume the new Zen? In short, no. He is not engaging like Zen, just a boring, humourless, goodie two shoes character (other than rebelliously leaving his dog's deposit in the middle of the pavement). Whilst that description might fit Donna Leon's Brunetti too, at least he is likeable. Blume's yankee upbringing and characteristics continually surface to the annoyance of others in the book and this reader. It's hard to fathom why he has stayed in Rome and I thought it myself long before he is told by one of his adversaries to "f*** off back to where you belong". Leaving aside the use of annoying Americanisms like elevator, gotten, faucet (why?), and also the odd typo, I was encouraged by the first half of the book, the promise of political intrigue and the suggestion of a web of complicity in the central murder and interference in the investigation by politicians, several different authorities and the local crimelord. However two of the characters who we are led to believe might be central to this complicity just disappear tamely when there is a shift for the final third of the book, both chronologically and in perspective. I stuck with it but ultimately was disappointed with what was a very ordinary final third. Overall, a few mentions of searing heat and insect noises did little to capture a sense of place and the character of Rome but I may give the author a second chance with Blume. I didn't with Hewson.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lots of shocks, 6 May 2011
This review is from: The Dogs of Rome: An Alec Blume Novel (Commissario Alec Blume 1) (Paperback)
If you like detective fiction in the Nordic style but are looking for a different (hotter!) location this is a good one to get. The opening chapter is shocking and terse and there are a few abrupt moments in the book where you have to reread a paragraph to make sure what you're reading is true! Good evocation of the oppressive heat and political intrigues of Rome.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Far from a dog, 15 Oct 2012
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Alec Blume, American by birth, is not as charismatic or as interesting to the English reader as the Italian Commissario Salvo Montalbano; nor is political dimension of Roman police procedural handled with the skill of Michael Dibdin, but nevertheless the novel does come to life. Interiors, food, manners, weather, all are credible, visible. I found the plot worth following (though the canine strand was the least compelling) and the characters distinct and likeable. I'll be tuning in next week ...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the dogs of crime war, 11 Aug 2012
By 
Michael Watson "skirrow22" (Halifax, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Dogs of Rome: An Alec Blume Novel (Commissario Alec Blume 1) (Paperback)
This crime thriller/police procedural follows in the footsteps of several other Italian detectives, some penned by Italians, some not. This one is a mix - in most senses; the author is Irish, living in Rome, the detective is American, progressing (slowly) up the ranks of the police in Rome. I'm not quite sure of the purpose behind this, unless it is deliberately to create a character who is a little different from Zen and Montalbano et al.

Anyhow, if you buy such a book you should know what to expect and this doesn't disappoint.

Larger than life crime figures have always featured in Italian life and probably still do if their politicians are anything to go by, so when a rather low profile man is brutally murdered who just happens to be the lover of the daughter of a crime boss, you just kbow where this will take you - and it does.

Along the way, however, we do get a character in American/Italian Commissario, Alec Blume, pushing forty, unmarried, dedicated to his job and determined, against the odds, to discover just who did bump off the man in question.

This, of course, despite orders from on high (no, not that high) to pin the blame on another criminal and bring the matter to a speedy conclusion. Naturally, Blume doesn't take this lying down though he does spend a day or two in hospital thanks to a car chase gone badly wrong; so wrong that it leads to the death of a rookie cop. Matters are made worse when Blume's sort-of trusted partner admits to being in close contact with the criminals for all the wrong reasons.

There is much development of the peripherals of life in Rome so you either like this or you don't but, as I opined above, this book is little different from others so you should know what to expect. Assuming you do like this approach to crime fighting in Italy, then the book works pretty well. The author does a good job with the humour of the storytelling and the development of the hunt for the killer, though it is the killer who is less easy to understand in the narrative.

Since dogs feature in this story and Blume, for whatever reasons, hates dogs, the closing chapters are a little hard to understand unless it was a chance for the author to tell us about certain fighting dogs; I'm not sure. Anyway, Blume is rather keen on a female FBI agent currently working in Italy who is very keen on dogs but more importantly for Blume, is rather more adept at dealing with thugs than he is. This doesn't sit straight but it makes for a progression of the story. I'm hoping in the second book, Blume's character will have straightened itself out so maybe his trip back to the States will help. We shall see.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Need to continue with the Alec Blume series to get the most out of the book, 26 Dec 2011
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Papillon - See all my reviews
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Decent read but not memorable enough to reach for another Alec Blume novel. Unusually, the killer was revealed very early in the novel without another strong candidate lined up to keep you guessing. The writer tried hard to give it an authentic Roman flavour and although the political and cultural complexities were quite well developed, the city of Rome itself didn't come alive. Full marks for getting across a very Italian way of doing police work but more could have been made of the uniqueness of the city.

In the end the novel was as much about Alex Blume and the characters he encountered in his professional life as it was about the investigation of a murder. I had the feeling the author was lining his readers up for a succession of Alex Blume novels by introducing all the significant players and leaving the door open for romance. The most one dimensional character in my opinion, was the enigmatic 'girlfriend', no doubt intending to propel readers toward the next novel where more will be made of the relationship. As per my review title, to get the most out of the book you must be prepared to continue with the Alec Blume series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New kid on the block, 24 Dec 2011
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hbw (uk) - See all my reviews
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How likely is it that a newly orphaned American teenager would be allowed to carry on living in Rome and grow up to become a senior police detective? OK, the back story's a bit thin, but the rest of the novel is spot on.

When an animal rights activist (inconveniently married to a well connected Italian Senator), is found murdered in his Rome apartment, senior officials demand the speedy arrest of a small time crook.

Commissioner Alec Blume is sure that the evidence points to a new kid on the block - one who doesn't play by the usual rules. Blume does a little rule breaking of his own as he tracks down the killer through a labyrinthine web of politics, corruption, organised crime and personal ambitions.

This is an absolutely cracking novel. It has more twists and turns that the back streets of Rome, but never goes off at a tangent. Characterisation is excellent and Alec Blume is totally credible as a basically good detective who occasionally takes his eye off the ball and has to live with the, sometimes terrible, consequences.

Happily, the second Alec Blume novelthe is already available.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great find, 19 Jun 2011
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Brian Harris (Olney, Bucks) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Dogs of Rome: An Alec Blume Novel (Commissario Alec Blume 1) (Paperback)
I found the first quarter of the book slow going and was tempted to put it aside, but then I reached a chapter which (to avoid giving away the plot) comprised humour, excitement and fine descriptive writing of action). I am glad that I persevered because I really do believe that the Commissario may become addictive.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a dog............., 12 July 2012
This review is from: The Dogs of Rome: An Alec Blume Novel (Commissario Alec Blume 1) (Paperback)
So apparently Alec Blume 'hates dogs', and he and other members of his department think that, since illegal dog fighting attracts criminals, who can be easily monitored and contacted at these events, its worth allowing it to continue, despite the death and suffering of a few dogs. Oh; well, that goes down just great with this dog lover, and I imagine with others who also care about dogs.

In addition, Blume doesn't appear to be too bright. At least, he allows the prime suspect in his investigation to get away and subsequently create further mayhem, because Blume has a date he wants to get to! On this date, he gets drunk and loses a vital piece of evidence. He then goes to arrest the prime suspect and only when he arrives, decides he needs back up; while he's going down in the lift to call for additional help, the suspect legs it down the stairs! Give me strength!

I gather other books are planned in this series. I shan't be reading them.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Dogs of Rome - excellent!, 20 Oct 2011
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Mrs. K. A. P. Wright - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Dogs of Rome: An Alec Blume Novel (Commissario Alec Blume 1) (Paperback)
I have no idea what crime is like in Rome or how the Rome police function, but I don't care. Conor Fitzgerald has created a world that is easy to believe in and I was happy to go along with it. I have never been to Rome, but the picture Fitzgerald has created makes me feel that I have.

The Dogs of Rome is a densely plotted detective story that involves you totally because, rarely in such a plot-driven story, the characters are real and (some of them) engaging. Commissario Alec Blume is somewhat of an outsider, not because he is a maverick cop (etc. etc.), but because he is an American who was orphaned in Italy as a teenager, so his slight detachment from his peers has a solid and believable reason. There are a variety of villains and crooks, who are clearly differentiated - career criminals, muscle, psychopaths. The victims are also clearly differentiated and some arouse more sympathy than others. There is a hint of corruption in high and low places. I shall not attempt to outline the plot. It is far too complex for that. Suffice to say that it never flags.

I really enjoyed this book and it merited closer reading than many in the genre.
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The Dogs of Rome: An Alec Blume Novel (Commissario Alec Blume 1)
The Dogs of Rome: An Alec Blume Novel (Commissario Alec Blume 1) by Conor Fitzgerald (Paperback - 18 April 2011)
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