This is the third in the author’s series of novels and it’s every bit as good as those that precede it. Once again, we’re with Detective Leone Scamarcio of the Rome police force. This time he is assigned to a road traffic accident involving the family of one of Italy’s leading television executives. Micky Proietti was in a chauffeur-driven limo with his wife and young son when they were rammed off the road. A good Samaritan called an ambulance. The paramedics dutifully turned up to take his injured child and wife to the hospital. But then, when the police arrive and chase it up, the two have vanished and there is no record of them being taken to any hospital.
Scamarcio is a good detective and it doesn’t take him long to realise that there is something strange going on and not just the obvious. Proietti is acting strangely, almost like he doesn’t want to help them find his family. No one in the industry has a good word to say about Micky and it soon becomes apparent that his private life is a convoluted mess. In fact, his affairs lead to top level politicians, leading actors and other showbiz figures and politicians.
Then there’s the Calabrian connection with which Scamarcio must tread carefully. For our protagonist heralds from the region, which is the geographical birthplace of the ‘Ndrangheta, currently Italy’s most powerful mafia. This perhaps wouldn’t be such a problem for him, if Scamarcio’s own father hadn’t been a renowned mafia godfather. The upshot is that despite his gifts, a pall of suspicion has always hung over him and while his boss has always held him in high regard, others in the force do not trust him at all.
In some ways, The Hit plays for lower stakes than Dalbuono’s previous two novels. The plot of The American, the second in the series, encompassed a conspiracy of literally global proportions. In fact, in my review of The American I worried that Scamarcio might have reached his peak too early. I needn’t have worried, for while our protagonist doesn’t face quite such jeopardy, this is no cozy mystery. The American was an excellent book but I quite enjoyed the change of pace in The Hit, which allowed Scamarcio to examine an alien world – that of showbiz – with the distance of an anthropologist. There’s almost a sense of he and his colleagues scratching their heads at the strange, self-obsessed denizens that populate this world.
That’s not to say that Scamarcio doesn’t face any risks in The Hit. In the last two novels, he has become increasingly beholden to his father former number two, who after his father’s murder appears to have taken the top spot. This man now comes calling, putting Scamarcio in an impossible position and a strong sub-plot is of his efforts to break free once and for all. So, whereas The American had at its heart an existential threat, the danger in The Hit is much more personal.
All in all, this is a great third novel is a series that has been consistently strong. I look forward to book number four.
5 out of 5 stars.