26 September 2023

The Devil

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Reviewed by Robert Goodman.

By Nadia Dalbuono, Scribe, $32.99.

Nadia Dalbuono opens her fifth Scarmacio book, The Devil, with an exorcism. No one dies, no one is injured, just the creepiness of a group of priests who believe it is their mission to drive the devil from the bodies of young people. It is not long before a young man is dead, just after being the subject of an exorcism rite. And there is no one better to investigate strange goings on in Rome that also involve the Vatican than Leone Scarmacio.

The Devil is a classic procedural. Not long after he starts investigating, speaking to each of the young priests who assisted the lead exorcist, than one of those priests is dead, in an apparent suicide that clearly was not suicide. Despite this, there seems to be no connection between the two deaths and, as he digs deeper, Scarmacio also uncovers links to big pharma which confuses the case even further.

Despite all of the criminal goings-on, Dalbuono does not lose sight of Scarmacio’s ongoing personal crises. His girlfriend Fiametta is pregnant with their first child and Scaramcio spends most of the book swinging between excited and downright terrified about what it might mean to have a child. And into that mix comes his old flame Aurelia, who’s present makes him question all of his life decisions. And always in the background is the threat of the Mafia, the organisation he fled from to become a policeman but one that has fingers in every criminal pie in Italy.

The Devil has everything readers will expect from crime fiction set in Italy – high level corruption, misbehaving priests being protected by the Vatican, shady Mafia figures – all anchored by a flawed hero. This is another great entry in an increasingly consistent and enjoyable crime series.

This and 500 more reviews can be found at www.pilebythebed.com.

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