Review: The Hit by Nadia Dalbuono



The Hit

Book Three of the Leone Scamarcio Series

by Nadia Dalbuono

Crime | 320 Pages | Published by Scribe UK in 2016


| Rating |


Under the heady lights of showbusiness, where money, sex and drugs fuel an atmosphere of disquiet, Nadia Dalbuono kicks off her return to the Leone Scamarcio series at a relentless pace. With media moguls, mafia dons and politicos battling to call the shots, The Hit is a gripping crime thriller which certainly equals its predecessors in atmosphere, tension and plot.

The investigation of an apparent hit-and-run unravels a tangled web in modern Rome.

When the family of Micky Proietti, a top television executive, goes missing, Leone Scamarcio is called to investigate. Everyone, it seems — from Premier League footballers to jilted starlets and cabinet ministers — has an axe to grind with Proietti. What starts out as an investigation into his countless affairs soon becomes an inquiry into how Proietti does business and the people he has discarded along the way. Finally, Proietti’s finances attract Scamarcio’s attention, and he discovers that the drama commissioner has been granting favours to some very shadowy sponsors.

Like a swimmer trying to escape a riptide, Scamarcio comes to realise that this new inquiry threatens to bring him head to head with his father’s old lieutenant, Piero Piocosta. If he’s to survive in the police force, Scamarcio knows that he must find a way to get Piocosta off his back, once and for all. And find it quickly.

Reluctantly, he travels home to Calabria in an attempt to understand how powerful Piocosta has really become and whether he might ever be silenced. It’s a perilous journey, but one Scamarcio has to make if he’s to finally banish the ghosts of his past.

With countless enemies and numerous false friends, a leading figure in the television game, Micky Proietti, is caught in a terrible accident with his wife and child. But when his family fail to arrive at the hospital following the incident, kidnapping seems the only likely explanation – and one which Leone Scamarcio must solve quickly.

But Scamarcio has problems of his own. With his father’s old mafia connections vying to control him, Scamarcio is threatened with losing everything he’s worked so hard to build, and is in danger of falling back into a world he fought to leave behind.

If the scene setting and character development of the opening chapter starts a little slowly, the vast majority of the novel more than makes up for it as a wealth of hardened criminals and suspicious characters vie to to make themselves the most likely suspect in the unfolding drama. And with two interwoven storylines running side by side, the seamless transition between the overriding criminal investigation and Scamarcio’s own storyline of Calabrian mafiosos, familial struggle and his past escape to Rome, makes this a complex and engaging crime thriller.

Through an absorbing narrative and meticulous attention to detail, the dark underbelly of Rome and the toxic, sweltering atmosphere of Catanzaro spring into life as both criminals and politicians come to the fore. As in the preceding novels, the depiction of Rome appears both beautiful and unflinchingly realistic; Dalbuono never shies away from thrusting the grit and grime of locations into her novels yet her love of the country is at all times apparent. This is an almost photographic portrait of two very different locations.

But while both Rome and Catanzaro provide the perfect backdrop to the unfolding drama, it is the interplay of characters that truly weaves this tangled web of villainy. With intoxicating showgirls vying for attention, and actors, directors and errand boys seeking centre stage, Dalbuono manages to build the necessary depth and background to the crime through a series of fleeting interactions and intelligent distractions which work to make Scamarcio’s task an increasingly difficult one.

And these novels cannot be read without becoming thoroughly invested in Leone Scamarcio. The troubled, chain smoking son of a former mafioso has a storyline equally as tantalising as the overriding crime itself, and it is in The Hit that we truly get to grips with the impact of his past action and inaction. The thrill of the crime is, as always, tantamount to the novel, yet it is the ever-mired Scamarcio who provides the familiar backdrop in an ever-growing sea of troubles. This is a character who has you coming back for more.

Dalbuono offers more than just a fast paced thriller with this release. Her prose is descriptive and beautiful where necessary, her protagonist is complex and absorbing, and her plot is dynamic and unpredictable. From the heart of Rome, to the glare of the spotlight, Dalbuono paints a scene which could only have come from experience or the most thorough research; her attention to detail is capable of transporting the reader in an instant onto the busy streets of Rome, under the heavy sun of Catanzaro, or into the path of ever present danger.

Utterly absorbing and vivid in its detail, The Hit is the perfect action packed follow up to The Few and The American. And with the release of its sequel, The Extremist, this month, it won’t be long before Scamarcio makes a very welcome return to my bookshelf.

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Teaser Tuesdays: July 04


Welcome to Teaser Tuesdays – a weekly feature hosted by The Purple Booker.


| Teaser Tuesdays: July 04 |

The Hit

Book Three of the Leone Scamarcio Series

by Nadia Dalbuono

Crime | 320 Pages | Published by Scribe UK in 2016


“All this travel of Piocosta’s was making Scamarcio wonder quite how influential he had become. Rather than being responsible for one aspect of the clan’s dealings in the capital, was Piocosta in fact responsible for all of it? Had he scrambled his way to the very top?”

~ 46% | The Hit by Nadia Dalbuono


| Synopsis |

The investigation of an apparent hit-and-run unravels a tangled web in modern Rome.

When the family of Micky Proietti, a top television executive, goes missing, Leone Scamarcio is called to investigate. Everyone, it seems — from Premier League footballers to jilted starlets and cabinet ministers — has an axe to grind with Proietti. What starts out as an investigation into his countless affairs soon becomes an inquiry into how Proietti does business and the people he has discarded along the way. Finally, Proietti’s finances attract Scamarcio’s attention, and he discovers that the drama commissioner has been granting favours to some very shadowy sponsors.

Like a swimmer trying to escape a riptide, Scamarcio comes to realise that this new inquiry threatens to bring him head to head with his father’s old lieutenant, Piero Piocosta. If he’s to survive in the police force, Scamarcio knows that he must find a way to get Piocosta off his back, once and for all. And find it quickly.

Reluctantly, he travels home to Calabria in an attempt to understand how powerful Piocosta has really become and whether he might ever be silenced. It’s a perilous journey, but one Scamarcio has to make if he’s to finally banish the ghosts of his past.

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| Join In |

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Please leave a comment with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your ‘teasers’ in a comment here!

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Review: Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart




Girl Waits With Gun

by Amy Stewart

Historical Fiction | Crime | 416 Pages | Published by Scribe in 2016


| Rating |


Welcome to the next stop in the ‘Girl Waits With Gun’ Blog Tour. Please check out the other fantastic blogs along the way!


The eye-catching cover and the headline title – Girl Waits With Gun – may have drawn me to Amy Stewart’s new novel, a work of fiction based on the life of the first female deputy sheriff in the US, but its contents have proven to be just as enchanting as its wrappings as Stewart recounts a vivid and decidedly captivating tale.

In this charming tale of the early twentieth century, feisty and formidable heroines are pitched against furtive criminal elements in the pursuit of reparations, peace and justice as three sisters are dragged into events which soon spiral out of control. In a narrative which skilfully captures the nuances of the time, an endearing historic figure is pulled out of obscurity and put into play on this marvellous fictional stage; a stage which echoes with a resounding and remarkable truth.

From the New York Times best-selling author of The Drunken Botanist comes an enthralling novel based on the forgotten, true story of one of the USA’s first female deputy sheriffs.

Constance Kopp doesn’t quite fit the mould. She towers over most men, has no interest in marriage or domestic affairs, and has been isolated from the world since a family secret sent her and her sisters from the city to the country fifteen years before. When a powerful, ruthless factory owner runs down their buggy, a dispute over damages turns into a war of bricks, bullets, and threats as he unleashes his gang on their farm. The sheriff enlists her help, and it turns out that Constance has a knack for outwitting (and disarming) the criminal element, which might just take her back out into the world and onto a new path in life.

Through Amy Stewart’s exuberant storytelling, Constance Kopp catapults from a forgotten historical anecdote to an unforgettable historical-fiction heroine — an outsized woman not only ahead of her time, but sometimes even ahead of ours.

1914, New Jersey -Whilst travelling into town, the horse drawn buggy driven by the Kopp sisters is hit broadside by a belligerent man in an automobile. But when Constance, the eldest of the Kopp sisters, seeks reparations for the damages, she soon realises that not everyone is driven by the same sense of honour and justice as her and her siblings.

As a case of simple payment turns into a battle of wills, threats and gun fights in the night, Constance Kopp is determined to do all she can to protect her home and her family, even if it means going after the criminals herself. With the aid of the Sheriff, and armed with a revolver, Kopp is one woman even the gangsters will be loath to cross.

Early twentieth century America is brought to life in this exciting depiction of Constance Kopp, a woman who continually questions the stereotypes forced upon her and shows the hidden strength and determination of a generation raised under a cloud of gender inequality and strict social etiquette. This is a novel which surprises with its storyline and spins a wonderful tale of one woman’s unrelenting pursuit of justice.

Amy Stewart creates a vivid stage on which to play her spirited cast of characters; from the rural farm in Hackensack, to the silk dyeing mills of Paterson and the crowded streets of New York City, each setting is brought to life with eloquence and humour, and the depth of history which inextricably goes before it. This is a novel which, despite the ever-present danger and foreboding potential, retains its quaint and charming outlook and benefits because of it.

The driving force behind the plot, however, are the three Kopp sisters and their consistently complicated relationship with their deceased mother, a woman whose strict upbringing still has an overbearing presence in their household, and their cloistered existence on the farm in Hackensack. Whether by poverty, the unwelcome attention of criminal gangs or by unpredictable change in circumstance, their lives are destined to change, but the determination and independence of these three women will see them fight for their continued survival no matter the obstacle.

Constance Kopp, our narrator and heroine, is a woman who brings a great deal of wit and vivacity to the role. Her personality is conflicted by both her modern ideals and her strict upbringing, but her inner strength shows that her lifestyle and unmarried status are a strength to her, fuelling her determination when faced with injustice. Her thought and observations maintain a steady balance of humour throughout the narrative and the revelations of her past injects a considerable amount of surprise and intrigue into the storyline.

Constance’s resolute personality is balanced by that of her younger sister Norma, a stern and direct character whose subtle eccentricities are full of dry wit. With a penchant for carrier pigeons and newspaper clippings which bear ill tidings, her steadfast and determined personality brings a solid dimension to a household which is in an almost constant state of flux and excitement.

Fleurette, the youngest of the three sisters, is responsible for a considerable amount of said excitement. A girl prone to wild bouts of imagination and with a remarkable capacity for exaggeration, she brings out a protective side in her sisters which would make them risk everything to keep her safe. Together, the three Kopp sisters are strong, wilful personalities and remain the most captivating and endearing element of a novel which also retains a flair for excitement and a good sense of humour throughout.Amy Stewart has brought early twentieth century America to life with her charming narrative and wonderfully depicted characters. Whilst aspects of the novel remain entirely fictional, the strength and determination of Constance Kopp remains without question. Girl Waits With Gun is exciting, endearing,  and altogether a thoroughly enjoyable read.

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Book Haul: February 24




| Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart |

This eye-catching tome arrived on my doorstep just in time for the Girl Waits With Gun Official Blog Tour which commences on 7th March – an event I’m very much looking forward to! With a gun-toting, law-wielding, feisty female heroine, this is one novel I cannot wait to get lost in. So join me on the 9th March as the Blog Tour takes an official diversion to Books by Proxy for my scoop on Girl Waits With Gun.


Girl Waits With Gun - Cover


Girl Waits With Gun

Book One of the Kopp Sisters

by Amy Stewart

Historical Crime Fiction | 416 Pages | To be published by Scribe UK on 10th March 2016


Girl Waits With Gun - Blog Tour


| Synopsis |

From the New York Times best-selling author of The Drunken Botanist comes an enthralling novel based on the forgotten, true story of one of the USA’s first female deputy sheriffs.

Constance Kopp doesn’t quite fit the mould. She towers over most men, has no interest in marriage or domestic affairs, and has been isolated from the world since a family secret sent her and her sisters from the city to the country fifteen years before. When a powerful, ruthless factory owner runs down their buggy, a dispute over damages turns into a war of bricks, bullets, and threats as he unleashes his gang on their farm. The sheriff enlists her help, and it turns out that Constance has a knack for outwitting (and disarming) the criminal element, which might just take her back out into the world and onto a new path in life.

Through Amy Stewart’s exuberant storytelling, Constance Kopp catapults from a forgotten historical anecdote to an unforgettable historical-fiction heroine — an outsized woman not only ahead of her time, but sometimes even ahead of ours.

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads

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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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Leone Scamarcio