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 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.
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!
If this novel is typical, there is a big difference between U.S. and Italian crime novels. Do not expect anything like “Lincoln Lawyer”. The actual crime and trial are secondary to the musings of the main character, Attorney Guido Guerrieri, And it seems that attorneys in Italy prepare for trial ONLY by reading the information given to them by the prosecuting attorney and police without doing any interviewing of witnesses or investigating on their own before trial. It’s very odd. Actually, frustrating is a better word.
I thought that since this is the first book in a series the author had decided to use most of novel introducing the reader to Guido, and you do grow to like him. He often mentions American books, music and art. He is finding himself after a divorce. But now I have started the second book, and more is being revealed about Guido, I am thinking that these books are more about how this man thinks, his humor, his self awareness and how he conducts himself within the legal system, then solving any “crime” or winning any trial.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
"A long short story"
Enjoyable meandering short story on steroids. The end game was obvious it seemed to me. The main characters were somewhat interesting without being engrossing. Sean Barrett was excellent as ever.
"No smoking please"
This is a story about your typical antihero. An italian lawyer Guido, depressed after devorcing his wife, taking on a case about a young boy abducted and killed and suspected street salesman accused of the murder. Nothing much happens in this story. Guido is not a great lawyer, nor a detective, most of the time he is...smoking. You can almost count down 20 seconds and Guido will light his next cigarette. Carofiglio spends most of this book vividly expanding on his facination with cigarettes and smoking and you can almost smell it in your clothes afterwards. Both the story and the plot gets lost in the smoke. Not even sure why the book is named Involuntary Witness.
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