Bestselling Italian author Bruno Morchio releases his debut for English readers.
In a hospital corridor, private investigator Bacci Pagano is keeping watch over Jasmìne Kilamba. If she lives, her testimony will shatter a notorious human trafficking ring. Seemingly out of nowhere, he is approached by an elderly German named Kurt Hessen who is searching for his Italian half-brother. Despite his better judgment, Pagano accepts the job. So many things, good and evil, happened when the Nazis occupied Genoa in 1944, what did it matter now? But it matters very much to someone and Pagano finds himself plunged into a world of old secrets and new lies in this wartime thriller where the bill for the sins of the past has come due . . . with interest.
Originally published in Italian as Rossoamaro, The German Client elegantly intertwines a wartime thriller about Nazi-occupied Genoa with the gritty realism of Pagano’s current investigation in what La Repubblica called “a masterful tale.”
Nominated for a National Book Award, The German Client spent five weeks on the Corriere della Sera best seller list and won the Azzeccagarbugli Prize for Best Mystery.
A WWII mystery wrapped up in a modern-day saga. Italy is in the latter days of the war and has been demoted from a German Ally to an occupied country with the Germans refusing to withdraw. Italy and its’ people are forced to assist the Third Reich in any way they can. The characters are well developed and the collaborators are feared and hated by the average populace. Check-points are manned with German military who have very itchy trigger fingers.
Kurt Hessen is a late war baby who is suffering from a terminal disease. He is looking for a brother he did not know he had. Detective Pagano is hired by Kurt to find this long-lost brother. Apparently, there is a sizable family inheritance that should go to the only surviving son of Mr. Hessen. Should the brother not be found, the money will go back to the state.
The author skillfully weaves the story through two time periods. It is masterfully done and I found myself appreciating the drama between a young Italian girl and an older German officer. Weaving the nearly 65 year split between the end of the war and current day adds to the mystery. The topper is the fact that the last name of the young girl is not known to the detective. Detective Pagano refuses the assignment outright but the dying man is insistent. He grudgingly takes on the task.
A real eye-opener is the continued mistrust of the protagonists and the former members of the resistance. In 1944 the war for Italy was coming to an end. The Germans were not going to retreat quietly. Secrets of the resistance and the partisans are raw wounds that carry forth to this day. Because of the animosity there is no real assistance from the population to help solve the mystery. Every bit of information is dragged out from those that remember. Many simply refuse to discuss the case or the time period.
The ending is a surprise that I did not see coming! The flow of the story reminds me of a taffy pull. Just when you think you have an inkling of an outcome the author skillfully changes direction. The ending is totally unexpected. The destruction of cities and industries by the Allied bombing made me sympathetic to the plight of the Italians.
The only quibble I had was the continuous use of places existing during WWII with no map or way to identify the locality. I suggest that anyone with a desire to learn history and feel the pain of war on the civilian population read this book. It is emotive and you will not be disappointed. Thanks to Chiara from Kazabo Publishing for my complementary copy. These are my honest and unbiased opinions. 4.5 stars – CE Williams
Genre: International Mystery & Crime, War Fiction, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Kazabo Publishing
- ASIN : B082LZL7WG
Print Length: 204 pages
Publication Date: February 17, 2020
Source: Publisher request
Title Links: The German Client [Amazon]
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The Author: Bacci Pagano, “the noir detective with the heart of gold,” is Bruno’s signature creation. Bacci is an Italian institution. Featured in over 15 novels, Vanity Fair called Pagano, “one of Italy’s most beloved characters.” In the words of one major Italian newspaper, “Bacci Pagano is a fixture in the Italian imagination. One grows fond of Bacci. After reading a few of these novels, you find you can no longer do without him.”
Bruno Morchio lives in Genoa, Italy, where he worked as a psychologist. He has won two literary prizes for the mystery genre, the Azzeccagarbugli and the Lomellina in Giallo Prizes, and was a finalist for the Bancarella, the Scerbanenco and the Romiti Prizes.
AUTHOR WEBSITE: www.brunomorchio.com
©2020 CE Williams – V Williams