Costantini, Roberto. The Deliverance of Evil. Quercus. February 2014. 576p. ISBN: 978-1-62365-002-5 Ebook: 978-1-62365-003-2. $26.95. Fiction
May 1982. Italy has just won soccer’s World Cup. During the night of celebration, a young woman, niece of powerful Cardinal Alessandrini and neighbor to a monarchist Senator, is murdered. The captain in charge of the investigation, Michele Balistreri, is a brash womanizer who botches the case. Twenty-four years later, with Italy again on the brink of a World Cup victory, someone with ties to the first victim has begun killing young women, each marked with a different letter of the alphabet. An older, chastened Balistreri leads his team of deputies as they try to solve a case that results in the deaths of nearly a dozen individuals and entwines Italian politics–the issue of immigration–with human failings, most importantly the desire for vengeance. VERDICT A strong start, with an absorbing depiction of arrogant Balistreri, leads by midpoint to a less than engaging muddle with far too many pawns on the board. Near the end, the disparate threads begin to take shape as a spider’s web but by then many readers may have abandoned the book. Recommended for those who don’t mind keeping a chart of characters and who enjoy elaborate puzzles.