Friday, 15 July 2011

Guilt by Association by Marcia Clark

Guilt by AssociationGuilt by Association by Marcia Clark

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I started the book quite a while after having been given it, after assurances from a blogger I know that it was really good. So, having enjoyed the first few pages, which are always crucial, I got really engrossed in the story.

The narrator is Rachel Knight, a Deputy District Attorney in LA whose colleague Jake Pahlmeyer is found dead in the company of a (very young) male prostitute, also dead. She is evidently distressed and while the investigation points to a likely homicide-suicide and blackmailing, she wants to find out whether really she knew nothing about her former colleague and his apparent double life as a paedophile. In the meantime, she is also looking after a case of rape where she thinks the main suspect, a gang boss, is not the culprit.

The two cases will of course turn out to be connected, and a number of times she risks her own life, let alone her career, but with the help of a few police friends she finds information which the regular investigation would have completely overlooked.

Clark’s knowledge of the legal system (she was a prosecutor in the OJ Simpson case) as well as of how the people really work within the system is evident throughout the book and I’m a stickler for these details: I like when authors clearly know what they’re describing, be it by personal experience or by research.

The dialogues, especially those involving the gang boss or others in the same environment, are extremely well played: being a non-native speaker it’s difficult for me to judge but I found the details of Rachel is correcting someone’s grammar absolutely hilarious!

Rachel is a very likeable character and as close to a real career woman as you can get (she likes to be well dressed and well turned out but doesn’t always have the time to do so), and sometimes does stupid things that get her into trouble, but also has really good friends who look after her. 

The pace of the story is fast and it interweaves action, legal thriller, and a (very little) bit of her personal and love life. Only occasionally the frequent description of what she chooses to wear is slightly superfluous but it certainly doesn’t get in the way of the narrative.

I do hope that this is the first of many books by Clark about Rachel Knight and perhaps a whole series.

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Friday, 8 July 2011

Premio Strega 2011

Yesterday evening saw the award ceremony, in the beautiful Ninfeo of the Villa Giulia in Rome, of the very prestigious Premio Strega, one of the most important Italian literary prizes. The prize is sponsored by the company making the Strega liqueur but was established in 1947 by Goffredo and Maria Bellonci whose literary salon included the founder of the Strega company. 

The winner for 2011 is Edoardo Nesi, with Storia della mia Gente (Bompiani), a book that crosses the line between fiction and non-fiction and is about social change in the Italian provinces, from a time when money was easy to make and was spent mainly in luxury items, to a global economy where China threatens the current near-effortless lifestyle.

Other books in the final shortlist were:

L'energia del vuoto (Guanda) by Bruno Arpaia, a “popular science” novel about a UN diplomat whose wife, a CERN physicist, has mysteriously disappeared.

Ternitti (Mondadori) by Mario Desiati, an account through the eyes of the daughter of one of the workers, of the “Eternit” factory and the damages caused to workers and their families by asbestos used to make roof coverings.

La vita accanto (Einaudi) by Mariapia Veladiano, a story about an ugly girl, love and hate, human nature, talent and music.

La scoperta del mondo (Nottetempo) by Luciana Castellina, the personal diary of a famous communist activist, journalist and writer between the ages of 14 and 18, corresponding to 1943 and 1948, crucial years for both the country her own personal development.

Information about all the books in the longlist can be found here (in Italian).