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on 10 October 2011
The latest in the Guido Guerrieri series by the estimable Italian crime writer, Gianrico Carofiglio. It's both a well-crafted murder mystery and a series of meditations and recollections by a man of principle and self-awareness. Another case of respect for Socrates' observation about the unexamined life being worthess.

Protagonist Guerrieri is a well-respected defense lawyer based in Bari, Italy who is approached by a colleague to investigate the unresolved disappearance of a young local woman. Reluctantly, Guerrieri agrees to make some inquiries, not expecting to find anything not already reported by the Italian police. His insightful handling of the missing woman's friends gradually opens up new possibilities and eventually a resolution to the case. As the procedural is launched and continues, the reader's respect for the lawyer's character grows. He's a thoughtful and interesting guy, but with a modest ego and good working moral compass. Someone to be admired for his approach to life, accomplishments and even his occasional missteps. The man has good friends with whom he has meaningful conversations, relatively free of cliches. He freely borrows other people's methods and gives them full credit when they succeed for him. In a genre where protagonists are most often addicts, recovering addicts or are regular punching bags for the bad guys, here's a hero who is none of that and, in fact, uses a punching bag himself..

This is a fine story and highly enjoyable read by an author at the top of his game. Highly recommended.
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on 1 November 2011
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Guido Guerrieri is a Bari defence lawyer asked by a colleague to look into the disappearance of a young woman. Manuela has disappeared six months previously and the case is about to be closed: can Guido discover something the original investigators may have missed?

"Temporary Perfections" is very readable and the prose is enjoyable being full of literary references and lyrical Proustian reminiscences. The plot moves at a leisurely pace and the investigation is interspersed with episodes involving Guido's personal life and the cases of his other clients. Guido's self-deprecating narration is reminiscent of Harlan Coben's Myron Bolitar and it is clear that Carofiglio knows the genre, paying homage to his predecessors throughout the book.

Although "Temporary Perfections" is the fourth of Carofiglio's novels to feature Guido Guerrieri, this is the first I have read. It felt like a stand-alone novel, however, and I did not feel that I was missing out by not having read the previous books in the series.
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VINE VOICEon 16 January 2012
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Guido Guerrieri is a defence advocate. With his staff increasing he has recently moved to new offices and is still trying to get used to them. he is approached by a colleague who wants Guido to look over a case file to see if he can find any new line of enquiry that would make the police keep the case open.

Manuela Ferraro vanished one Sunday afternoon, she was last seen waiting for a train. Her parents have been told the police have no further leads and intend to close the case.

Guerrieri reluctantly agrees to take a look and as he begins to look into Manuela's life at university and her friends an interesting picture at odds with her family's view of her begins to emerge.

What happened that summer Sunday afternoon? where did Manuela go? As the story begins to unfold he is not sure he wants to find the answers.

This book is written by a former Italian Prosecutor and now a member of the Italian Senate. He writes with a knowledge of his subject and sprinkles in interesting and weird facts about Italian law through his story.

This is the fourth book in the series but it can quite easily stand alone as a single novel.

For those who like to try a different slant on the crime novel this is worth a go.
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VINE VOICEon 15 December 2011
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Carofiglio always seems to really understand the subject matter and have strong views about the main characters. This book is no exception and I am fast becoming a real fan.
Much more gritty than perhaps one would expect, without using far fetched or horrible situations to create the atmosphere.
A lively story involving a realistic main character who is dragged into an investigation against his better judgement. As I progressed I could feel his increasing commitment to the job which really says something for the quality of writing (and translation).
If you've never read one of this authors books, do try this - I don't think you'll be disappointed.
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VINE VOICEon 7 October 2011
If you are like me a lover of crime fiction, and you haven't discovered the Bitter Lemon Press, then you have a treat in store. They publish quality crime fiction and thrillers, often set in far away exotic locations. My own favourite discovery from them so far is Gianrico Carofiglio, who has just published his fourth novel featuring Italian lawyer Guido Guerrieri, `Temporary Perfections'.

Carofiglio's background is particularly interesting, for before he discovered his talent for penning books, he was a prosecutor in the Italian city of Bari in Puglia, who specialised in prosecuting members of the mafia. And he uses his personal experiences to add depth and colour to Guerrieri's own legal career. He does have some of the, by now, obligatory tick list features of a crime fiction hero. These inevitably include failed personal relationships; the inability to achieve a healthy work/life balance; and a penchant for fine food and alcohol, sometimes to excess.

But despite this adherence to the formula, Carofiglio achieves a gritty pace to his books, which are always a cracking read. If anything this fourth one is slightly less strong than the previous three, as there does not seem to be that much sleuthing or legal work involved. But Guerrieri makes full use of past clients he has, usually successfully it has be said, defended, such as ex prostitutes, drug dealers and Mafioso, to get to the bottom of the disappearance of the daughter of a rich Bari family. If only he could resist the temptations of a young pretty girl to flatter his mid life crisis...

Carofiglio also achieves a wonderful sense of Bari, the backstreets and underbelly of which are centre stage in his stories, with the odd venture to Rome and other Italian cities thrown in for good measure. If you take my advice, and you know you want to, you will head straight for the first instalment of the legal adventures of Guido Guerrieri, `Involuntary Witness' and work your way through the following three books too, as the nights draw in, and there is nothing better than a good crime book to keep you amused.
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on 25 November 2011
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Guerrieri's a good honest lawyer working in southern Italy, and it's a pleasure to meet him. For once the hero of a detective novel is only relatively troubled.He gets enough sleep, eats properly and isn't either a genius or a disaster. He's appealing because he's really rather normal. We get the impression that he's quite good looking, but that's not a bad thing.
On his quest to find out what happened to a missing student he does some slightly daft things, but follows his instincts and his police friend's advice and does some decent amateur detective work. Carofiglio describes his hero's single minded pursuit by the beautiful Carolina, the missing girl's flatmate, brilliantly.
Temporary Perfections is an elegantly written novel that proceeeds at a pace that we can follow and allows us to watch Guido Guerrieri walking into situations that make us want to warn him off. It feels as if it would make a beautiful BBC special, not a Hollywood thriller. These are three-dimensional characters, people we can get to like, described with warmth; their behaviour is human. This is a great novel which happens to have some interesting detective work in it.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 9 November 2011
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There are four books featuring Guido Guerrieri character. A rather selective defence lawyer who picks his clients, Guido prefers white-collar criminals and small time crooks who are independent operators from the underworld. His practice seems successful as he seems to keep his clients out of jail.

In this novel a Guido is asked to look into a closed case. A young woman who went missing six months before and the police were never able to trace her. The girl's parents are truly devastated. They want to know what happened to their daughter. It is felt that with Guido's deep judicial knowledge, he may be able to find some `crumb' in the files that was overlooked in the original Police investigation.

The narrative revolves around Guido's unofficial inquiries; Guido is no detective, but takes secret delight in this opportunity to be a sleuth, and takes inspiration from the fictional ones from both film and book.
While we are engrossed in the story we are given little golden nuggets of our amateur sleuth's everyday life and his legal cases. The storyline gives insight into Guido's witty and almost self-deprecating internal monologues.

Our protagonist is a complex and believable character; his little foibles do not detract but enhance the narrative. All in all a good read and I would strongly recommend this book, hence my 5 star rating.
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VINE VOICEon 7 December 2011
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Carofiglio's book is an unusual production. It has an engaging central character and a number of others, some of whom take it in turns to act as the sounding board for his ideas. I've never been to Bari, but Carofiglio plainly has a lot of affection for the place, and while there is quite a bit of detail about the life of an Italian lawyer and the way the law works, it isn't intrusive and doesn't feel as if it has been included just because the author happens to know it.

This is not a plot-heavy book, but it's nicely paced and the translation works well most of the time. I'd certainly read more.
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VINE VOICEon 12 November 2011
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This is the fourth in Carofiglio's series featuring Avvocato Guido Guerrieri, a defence counsel based in Bari. He's a very likeable character and the novel, which he narrates in the first person, is very readable. We see his outlook throughout - sometimes weary and doubting, at other times determined, and often caught reminiscing. This is the cheif appeal of the novel, as his attempts to get to grips with an unusual case cause him to question himself in many ways. The plot centres on a missing young woman from Rome, whose parents are brought to Guerrieri through a mutual friend. They persuade him to undertake an unofficial investigation, something outside his usual practice and experience, and which he ultimately finds invigorating, despite reservations about his suitability for the task. At times, the plot is very much secondary, with long passages concerning his daily activities and thoughts, in which very little actually happens to advance the investigation. The book is none the worse for this, though. Other characters, particularly the alluring Caterina, friend of the missing woman, are well created too. Guerrieri is tempted by her beauty, despite the vast age difference between them, and his anxieties about this are a recurrent theme. The conclusion of the plot is straightforward and happens without much build up, which is a little disappointing, but this book isn't primarily of interest for the plot, but rather for the excellent characterisation and narrative style.
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VINE VOICEon 26 October 2011
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I love detective stories set in Italy. So far I have read Michael Dibdin Aurelio Zen books set in Rome, the Donna Leon Venetian mysteries with lovely Guido Brunetti, the gloriously funny Montelbano books by Camilleri set in Sicily and recently discovered the books of Marco Vichi which are located in Florence. Now I have just read Temporary Perfections by Gianrico Carofiglio set in Bari, a port on the coast of Puglia. His main protagonist is Guido Guerrieri a defence counsel. He is in his forties, lives on his own and, much to his suprise, is a good lawyer. One day he is asked to investigate the disappearance of a young girl, Manuela, the daughter of a rich couple living in Bari. Nobody can track her down or find her and though this assignment is more suited to an investigator than a defence lawyer, Guido takes it on.

He retraces the steps already investigated by the Carabinieri and, at first, cannot find anything unusual which would prevent them from closing the case and filing it away. And then he reinterviews Manuela's friends, including the beautiful Caterina and finds himself becoming deeply involved, in more ways than one.

This is a thoughtful book, not full of thrills and spills so if you are looking for a tense thriller, you will not find it here. What you will find is an immaculately written book full of elegant prose (my congratulations to the translater Antony Shugaar though I feel he could not go wrong with this author's writing) which was such a pleasure to read. There is an ease and a style to good writing - difficult to explain what it is, you just know when you come across it.

I warmed to Guido and engaged with him immediately which is a must for me if I am to enjoy a book and enjoy this one I did. I see there are two other titles available and after posting this review I will be checking these out.

So glad I have discovered this author - ok a little late in the day but I got there in the end.
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