A nine-year-old boy is found murdered at the bottom of a well near a popular beach resort in southern Italy. In what looks like a hopeless case for Guido Guerrieri, a Senegalese peddler is accused of the crime. Faced with small-town racism, Guido attempts to exploit the esoteric workings of the Italian courts. The voice of Sean Barrett brings this gritty Italian detective series to life.
©2005 Gianrico Carofiglio (P)2011 Audible Ltd
“Hard-boiled and sun-dried in equal parts. Where Philip Marlowe would be knocking back bourbon and listening to the snap of fist on jaw, Guido Guerrieri prefers Sicilian wine and Leonard Cohen. The role of Guerrieri is to take on impossible cases that have little chance of success. His efforts to prove his client's innocence bring him into dangerous conflict with Mafia interests. Everything a legal thriller should be.” (Financial Times)
''At one level an exciting courtroom thriller, but what places it in a superior league is the portrayal of a slice of Italian society not normally encountered in crime fiction and an immensely appealing flawed hero." (The Times, London)
A trend in crime fiction seems to be endless musings over simple details of life. Carofiglio goes down that path, too. Yet he makes these musings meaningful rather than pulling you out of the story by wondering what polishing every little detail has to do with moving the story forward. Guido is a man who lives a flawed existance and still manages. I enjoyed being introduced to his world. And the crime in question is topical. I'd have rated it 4.5 stars overall if that was possible.
I've listened to several books by Sean Barrett. His voice and reading truly adds to this story. His sense of worldliness comes through turning what could be a whiny yarn into musings of a man who has lived a full yet flawed life.
I am exploring Scandinavian mysteries but also like mysteries set in other parts of the world. I also like reading Literary Fiction.
The protagonist of Involuntary Witness is very likable and warm. He is a man whose life is falling apart and the novel tells the story of how he fights back, through the defense of a client accused of murder.
I have never listened to Sean Barrett before, but I will again. He is an exceptional performer.
Sean Barrett's performance of Abbou, the Senegalese man accused of murder, was surprisingly moving. That character seemed so real to me, my heart went out to him.
I am definitely coming for more books in the Guerrieri series. Carofiglio is a great find.
Reader, Listener, Optimist
Carofiglio has imagined this story from the benefit of his real life experiences as an Italian magistrate (similar to much better known attorneys-turned-authors, Grisham and Turow). The peculiarities of the italian legal system are effortlessly woven into the routine of the main character's life so that they are interesting to outsiders, and easily understood.
Patrick Creagh's fluid translation coupled with Sean Barrett's elegant and versatile voice gives the illusion that this book was originally written in English. It is easy to take their efforts for granted, but successfully translated audiobooks are not that common ("The Thief" comes to mind as a poor effort).
I love to read and hope you do too! Audio books are great for people on the go!
I heard an interview of Giancarlo Carofiglio on the Alan Farley radio show Book Talk and subsequently read the last book in the series from my library. It was awesome, and so I've been listening to all the audible copies (books one to three at this point). I love the character's inner dialog, the tight court procedurals, and the life lessons he learns or experiences in each book. The author resists the temptation to preach his point, and lets the action tell the story. I think the reader has just the right tone too. Well done!
A little bit of Grisham, a little bit of Connolly and a little bit of Rumpole of the Bailey and that really doesn’t touch how good Gianrico Gainfiglio’s books are. The protagonist, Avvocato Guido Guerrieri, is smart, flawed, and has a wonderful self-deprecating humor.
Well written, expertly narrated series about an Italian lawyer and his vibrant world.
Although I use the term "procedural" to identify this wonderful novel with a well-known genre, Involuntary Witness is much, much more. A very personal, first person perspective by a defense attorney in the city of Bari, faced with defending a young African accused of murdering a child. The narrative moves constantly among the trial proceedings and the attorney's personal life, his struggle to come to terms with his divorce, the possibility of a new love, and his jaded view of the law and the courts. It is magnificently narrated by Sean Barrett. I will certainly look for more books by Carofiglio and more performances by Barrett.
I am an avid eclectic reader.
I decided to read “Involuntary Witness” because it was an English translation of an Italian book. Thought I would get a feel of the culture, and as it is a legal mystery, some information about the Italian court system. The author, Gianrico Carofiglio, was a prosecutor in Bari Italy and now is a Senator in Rome. The book opens with Guido Guerrieri, a defense attorney, marriage ending with his wife demanding a divorce. There follows a year long bout of insomnia, panic attacks, depression and barely able to function in his job. He decided to take up boxing which he did when he was a young man and this helps him come out of his depression. He then takes on a case of a Senegalese peddler accused of murdering a young boy. Guerrieri realizes his client is innocent therefore; he is under greater stress to get him off. It was interesting to see the attitudes toward immigration by the Italians. I was most interested in the court system. Apparently there are two types of trials in Italy a shortened procedure which the prosecutor presents his case to the judge, but no witness are called, the advantage to the defendant is a reduced sentence. The other trial is the Assize court in front of two judges and six member jury and a full trial but if found guilty a longer sentence is given. The book is well written and easy to read. Sean Barrett did a good job narrating the book, loved the sound of the Italian words.
Everything. The narration was excellent too.
Two-thirds of what we see is behind our eyes.
One of the best books I've read in a long time. An Italian legal thriller who's protagonist Guido Guerrieri is an attorney/investigator who's life seems to be coming undone. At the same time he must defend a man accused of murder and who faces life in prison. The story is not only captivating in sequence, its written with the highest degree of intelligence and reasoning. There are many poignant moments in the book which make all the more memorable. It's also a bit of a love story too. I enjoy visiting another part of the world without having to make travel plans. I will definitely be reading more of his books.
critic at large
I don't care for legal mysteries but this will make my top ten reads of the year. More than half the book is about Guido Guerrieri, the Advocato in the criminal courts. The case he is defending is one of a Senegalese peddler who is accused of kidnapping and strangling a small Italian boy whom he was friends with. The case hangs, not on proving someone else did it, nor even proving the accused did not do it. Instead, in a brilliant piece of writing, Guido offers in his closing argument a monologue on the multiple natures of "truth".
Special kudos to Patrick Creagh, the translator. So perfect is his translation that the reader would never guess the book had been written in Italian.
I have read all 4 of Carofiglio's books and have enjoyed them all, especially the first 2. They are entertaining and I found the differences between the Italian and the American judicial system is very interesting. Sean Barret is probably my favorite reader; he is always excellent.
"Crime from an unusual aspect"
I would recommend this book very highly. The main character is brilliant, deeply flawed and very human, he has a dark side but is also humane. I would advise reading the books in the sequence they were written in to get the full benefit of developments. I wish they would translate all Carofiglio's books into English. It is also brilliantly read by Sean Barrett.
It's hard to pick a ' memorable moment '. It's not a ' Bang Bang, Stab Stab, Car Chase ' book. The evolution of the main character and plot make it all memorable. I just wish there were more books. I hated to finish each one, it's always lile the loss of a good friend when you finish one.
Flawless performance from Sean Barrett. He IS the character. You would think he'd written it himself.
Yes because it's so good. No because I wanted it to last.
YES YES YES. I WANT MORE!!!! PLEASE LET US HAVE THE NEXT ONE IN THE SERIES.
"An Unlikely Crusader"
Absorbing is probably the best way to describe the impact that this book had on me. Primarily it is a courtroom drama and is successful in both depiction and execution. However, at the same time, it successfully makes the effort to develop the characters to make them believable. Sean Barrett's narration, almost world-weary at times, seems to match the persona of Guido, the advocate who is the central character.
It is set in south-eastern Italy (around the heel) largely in the province of Puglia. As might be expected there is bags of emotion and heart-searching and, before you know it, you are dragged into the unfolding dramas inside and outside the courtroom. The book is not for the impatient but rewards those who run the course. The characters are carefully drawn in the course of the book and yet there remains the ability to them to surprise you throughout the book whilst they maintain their credibility as real people.
At no time do you feel that the pace of the book is determined by anything other than the natural unfolding of events. There is no forced extension to make the book longer nor is there any rush to the conclusion. It just moves at its own pace drawing the reader along with it.
I was a little concerned about buying a translated version of an Italian novel as translators can be too literal or try to insert their own interpretation into the novel. At no time was I conscious of this being a translated story and forgot that it was anything other than a novel originally written in another language.
All-in-all it is worth every one of the five stars and I look forward to listening to the next episode.
"Great Little Book."
This is my first book by this author. It was brought to my attention when I read that Sean Barrett, the narrator of so many great audio books, recommended the novels in this series, and said that he greatly enjoyed recording the books.
This book is both a legal thriller and a study into human emotions and frailties,. The main character is a wonderful mix of tough lawyer anda man on the edge of an emotional breakdown.
Set in southern Italy the author beutifully describes the native way of life and the small town and it's picturesque surroundings.
The Plot is engageing and the whole book is superbly written. The dulcet tones of Sean Barrett, just brings this great book to life. I thoroughly enjoyed this great little book.
"Different than the usual"
I got this book as it had good reviews and I'd not read any by this particular author. I love the fact that this legal thriller isn't like the usual type with all the jumping up and shouting. The author draws you into the central character Guido Guerrieri with his flaws, vulnerabilities and I loved the closing arguments. The fact that it wasn't set in the usual legal system that most of us know gave the book an edge for me as it didn't feel like reading 'just another court case' novel.
"What a surprise (pleasant)"
I had never heard of Carafiglio - why not ?? This is a really excellent story. Simple, I suppose, but entertaining in the extreme.
Do listen if you like self-contemplative, self-deprecatory, musings of the main character (somewhat reminiscent of Wallander I thought) wrapped up in a fine enough legal drama. And of course all smothered in those Sean Barrett tones.
First class discovery - ok the mean part of me begrudges a whole credit on a short book - only around 7 hours - but that's the way it is.
I apologise if it isn't for you, but I'm not going to be apologising much I guess.
"Towards the end I couldn't stop listening"
Interesting, gradually intriguing
Guido's summing up during the trial! I had to sit in the car outside work until he finished!!
Guido - I slowly fell in love with him as I listened
When his neighbour told Guido her life history
A beautifully written book that had quite a slow Gentle pace it's left me wanting more! can't wait to listen to the next book.
"Good introduction to Guerrieri series"
Excellent narrator Sean Barrett tells the story well In general and somehow manages to bring out the charm of the central character and endears him to you .... Endeared him to me anyway ,
I enjoy legal stories and this one seemed to include humour, pathos, legal intrigue and an interesting main character
Barrett differentiates between voices spectacularly well and with great subtlety where women's voices are concerned. I find I am completely convinced that the character is female without any artificial,high pitched voice that some readers affect. Something to do with a subtle shift in tone I think. An excellent narrator.
I couldn't pick out a particular moment. I enjoyed the book as a whole.
I was inspired to read all the other books in the series. I particularly like the 'mental asides' by the central character. A bizarre mixture of self deprecation, arrogance and humour.
"Great book in the series"
This is a great series read by the great Sean Barrett!! They should be read in order as they do refer back to previous books.
Not my usual gripping gorey thriller but more courtroom drama. Can't help but like the characters!
Great shorter story.
"Heart warming story of individuals' triumphing"
Initially the lead character appeared unpleasant and unlikeable, but cometh the hour and the true character emerged and won me over. I don't usually like extensive character development, but here I did and didn't see as a digression. The story is a little predictable but unfolds well. Overall a heart warming story, and a lead charcter I am very keen to hear much more of, and have the next books in the series already loaded! Enjoy. Excellent delivery by Sean Barrett as ever.
"Quite Simply : this is first rate"
I was tempted to read this by another reviewer who in turn had been directed to it by a remark made by Sean Barrett during an interview. And am I glad I took the hint. This is a great find. The plot is very simple - this is no who dun it - it is more a quiet and steady courtroom drama - interwoven with the changes taking place in the advocates life. It really does make compelling listening, I switched on at every possible opportunity. The writing is excellent and a great deal of credit for that must be down to the translator as well as the original author, whilst Sean Barrett has never been better. I have already downloaded the 2nd in the series and will be interested to see how the strands of the advocates personal life can be picked up and made as interesting as in this first book.
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