Review: The Deliverance of Evil by Roberto Costantini

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Deliverance of Evil
Title: The Deliverance of Evil
Author: Roberto Costantini
Publisher: Quercus Books
Date of Publication: March 28, 2013

The Deliverance of Evil is a masterful psychological thriller about an edgy policeman’s personal evolution—or devolution—as seen through the lens of a devilish case that consumed him early in his career and continues to haunt him twenty-four years later.

In 1982, all of Italy was joyous, having just won the World Cup after a decades-long championship drought, while in Rome hard-drinking Commissario Michele Balistreri was a brash cop investigating the murder of beautiful young Elisa Sordi. Despite the Commissario’s brash style, or perhaps because of his arrogance, the murderer is never found. As the years pass, the file goes cold and Balistreri grows wiser, if perhaps a little more damaged and a little less fearless, consumed by the guilt of having left Sordi’s murder unsolved.

In 2006, Italy is once again on the brink of a World Cup victory and Balistreri is losing the battle against his personal demons when Sordi’s mother suddenly commits suicide. Emerging from a haze of antidepressants and self-pity, Balistreri is spurred to action and picks up the case again, sure that Elisa’s killer is still out there, simply awaiting his next opportunity to strike.

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My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Thank you to Maya and The Book Depository Affiliates Program for the ARC! Still, this in no way affected my views of the novel.

Before I got into book blogging and mostly reading YA novels, I devoured mysteries, thrillers and whodunnits. Those were my book jams, which was kinda backwards since I got into YA when I grew older and I was obsessed with thrillers when I was younger. Blame it on Nancy Drew! Everything's her fault! Anyway, so when Maya offered me to review this for The Book Depository, I took the chance! It's been a while since I've read an honest-to-goodness adult murder mystery thriller and I feel like reading one. Plus, this must be good since it has been translated to English! I mean, why would there be a translated version if there's no demand or market, right? And I'm happy to announce that it is REALLY good. And that I thank all the translating gods (N.S. Thompson, thank you so much for translating this!) for bestowing upon us this book.

Roberto Costantini has crafted such a rich, exquisite and complex tale in this murder mystery. He had me guessing wrongly all the time. I am pretty good at catching the killer in these whodunnits but with this book, I just can't keep a hold of the murderer. He was able to do this by writing such dimensional and different characters. No one was completely good or completely bad, everything and everyone was grey. Everyone and anyone could be the killer because they each have rocky alibis, questionable actions and reactions and possible motives. But in the end, I couldn't have even imagined how bigger than just a simple murder the whole story was. A conspiracy, a complex plot and lots of possible suspects just made this novel a notch higher than most in its genre.

Costantini has also achieved this greatness because of his protagonist, Commissario Michele Balistreri. Put simply, he was an anti-hero. It was actually a bit hard to like him and completely root for him as he speaks crassly and rudely to women. But the best characters are the most flawed ones with redeeming qualities. And that's what Michele is looking for, redemption, to absolve himself for catching the wrong person, letting the murderer out in daylight, free as a bird.

The novel chronicles two points in time, the two times Italy has won the World Cup. Thus, we get two stories, interrelated by the hero Michele and the murders surrounding Italy's victories. The story in 1982 paves the way for why the Commissario is how he is in 2006 and proves to be a good background to set the feel and setting in 2006.

My only complaint is that the novel is really long and while truly engaging, my short attention span just can't quite read it continuously. But I understand why it had to be long because all the details were needed and contributed to how everything is pieced together. It just takes some time to read but don't fret as you will definitely be rewarded. Roberto Costantini's novels are definitely on my radar and on my to-read now!

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