Review: The American by Nadia Dalbuono

Blog Tour - The American

The American

A Leone Scamarcio Thriller

by Nadia Dalbuono

Crime | Thriller | 362 Pages | Published by Scribe in 2016

| Rating |

Welcome to the next stop in ‘The American’ Blog Tour. Please check out the other fantastic blogs along the way!

The Few, Nadia Dalbuono’s first Leone Scamarcio crime thriller, was a stunning debut and came out on top in my favourite reads of 2015. But now there is a serious contender to take its crown with the 2016 release of the next Leone Scamarcio thriller –  The American.

This is a complex, intricately woven tale led by a conflicted and intelligent protagonist who consistently finds himself drawn into the darker side of Rome, whilst hindered by the, ever frustrating, Italian justice system. And it completely blew me away. This is a thriller rooted in conspiracy with a scope so huge that it stretches far across the globe; with a surfeit of criminals and mobsters, politicians and priests, this is a narrative embroiled in the darkest depths of world politics which is at once utterly absorbing and incredibly difficult to put down. This is a world where no one’s hands are clean and nobody can be wholly trusted.

The second Leone Scamarcio thriller.

As autumn sets in, the queues outside the soup kitchens of Rome are lengthening, and the people are taking to the piazzas, increasingly frustrated by the deepening economic crisis.

When Detective Leone Scamarcio is called to an apparent suicide on the Ponte Sant’Angelo, a stone’s throw from Vatican City, the dead man’s expensive suit suggests yet another businessman fallen on hard times. But Scamarcio is immediately troubled by similarities with the 1982 murder of Roberto Calvi, dubbed ‘God’s Banker’ because of his work for the Vatican Bank.

When, days later, a cardinal with links to the bank is killed, and the CIA send a couple of heavies to warn him off the case, Scamarcio knows he’s onto something big.

As disturbing connections between 9/11, America’s dirty wars, Vatican corruption, the Mafia,  and Italy’s violence against its own people begin to emerge, Scamarcio is forced to deal with responsibilities far above his pay grade — in this tightly plotted mystery full of political intrigue.

When a man is found hanged at the Ponte Sant’Angelo with apparent links to an historic case, Detective Leone Scamarcio finds himself entangled in a complex web of conspiracy which stretches across time and history with far reaching implications. With suspicious links to the Vatican and little to no communication from the Vatican Police, the apparent and bloody involvement of the mafia, and a mysterious American secret service agency vying to counter his every move, Scamarcio must countermand his superiors to solve the crime before he becomes just another body floating down the river.

The American is a superbly crafted, incredibly tangled and ultimately thrilling tale which completely absorbed me from start to finish. Rome is depicted in a violent clash of blood and beauty, coming to life with the expert portrayal of both its stark and rich splendour and its dark and dirty underworld. Dalbuono does not romanticise but her writing is so rich and her descriptions are so vivid that it’s not hard to feel an instant connection to the city, and indeed, the case.

Leone Scamarcio continues to develop as a conflicted protagonist who, despite his best efforts to enforce justice, consistently finds himself stonewalled by the Italian judiciary system which is mired in an excess of bureaucracy. With a past firmly rooted in the mafia, Scamarcio must constantly choose between this defunct system of government and the dangerous but effective trade of information and favours which tie him to the criminal organisations of his past. And, with time against him, who he decides to place his trust in could quite literally be a matter of life and death.

Dalbuono’s writing continues to impress as she weaves her incredibly tangled web of cold war tension, world politics, government secrets and organised crime. And she doesn’t drop the thread once. The American is a fast-paced, thrilling tale which deserves a reputation amongst the greats of crime fiction and will undoubtedly remain a favourite of mine for years to come. Dalbuono, whilst consistently compared to Donna Leon, has a scale and scope to her writing which is so great, and a narrative so thrilling and rooted in danger, that the Leone Scamarcio thrillers deserve to be recognised in their own right. 

The American is a novel which will have you on the edge of your seat, casting an eye of suspicion upon powerful governments across the globe and, whilst there are hints and links back to The Few throughout the novel (and perhaps a few spoilers), can essentially be read as a stand alone novel. By the time it comes to a close however, you will be in desperate need of another Scamarcio fix as Dalbuono leaves you thrilled, amazed and on tenterhooks for her next novel. If you a hungering for a fast-paced and intelligent crime thriller, then you must try out the writing of Nadia Dalbuono – she never fails to impress.

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