Over the years January has not been a good month for me, and I wait in trepidation each year for the month to end.
My mood has been such that I did not start to read the remaining Montalbano mystery I have, The Terracotta Dog.
I needed something harsher and grittier, because even though Camilleri writes about terrible crimes he does it with such wit and humour, that the full horror is almost hidden from view.
Today I read Almost Blue by Carlo Lucarelli right through in one sitting. It has left me drained, and the effect is almost cathartic.
This powerful book roars along through 161 pages at breakneck speed, and it is hard to put down.
The story is told through the voices of three people:
Simone, a young blind man, who spends his days scanning the radio waves of Bologna.
Ispettore Grazia Nero, a young policewoman hunting a serial killer.
And the serial killer himself, the Iguana a violent psychotic, who assumes the identity and appearance of his victims.
When a fingerprint is found in one of the victims apartments it belongs to a supposedly dead patient at a psychiatric establishment.
But by chance Simone overhears the voice of the Iguana on his scanner.
Grazia, and her boss Commissario Capo Vittoria Poletto, attempt to use Simone's skill at identifying voices to find the Iguana, and this leads to a very violent confrontation at the climax of the book.
Grazia Nero is a very human and interesting detective, very much like a young Jane Tennyson.
I had already read the second book in the series Day After Day a few weeks ago.
Almost Blue was shortlisted for a CWA award, but I do think Day After Day was a better story and it certainly would have been more sensible to have read them in the correct order. These books are not for the faint hearted, but are excellent examples of Italian noir, and the serial killer crime novel.
Get him, bambina.