When Martina accuses her ex-boyfriend – the son of a powerful local judge – of assault and battery, no witnesses can be persuaded to testify on her behalf and one lawyer after another refuses to represent her.Guido Guerrieri knows the case could bring his legal career to a premature and messy end, but he cannot resist the appeal of a hopeless cause.Nor deny his attraction to Sister Claudia, the young woman in charge of the shelter where Martina is living, who shares his love of martial arts and his virulent hatred of injustice.
You never quit smoking. You give up for a while. Days, months, years. But you
never quit completely. Cigarettes are always there, lying in wait. Sometimes they appear in the middle of a dream, even five or ten years after you’ve “quit”.
You feel the touch of the paper on your fingers, you hear the soft, dull, reassuring noise it makes when you tap it on your desk, you feel the touch of the ochre filter on your lips, you hear the scrape of the match and you see the yellow flame with its blue base.
You even feel the kick in your lungs, and you see the smoke spreading over your papers, your books, your cup of coffee.
And then you wake up. And you think a cigarette, just one cigarette, won’t matter very much. You could light one right now, because you always have that emergency packet in your desk drawer, or somewhere else. And then, of course, you tell yourself it doesn’t work like that, that if you light one you’ll light another, and then another, and so on, and so on. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Whatever happens, it’s at moments like these that you realize the phrase “to quit smoking” is an abstract concept. The reality is quite different.
And then there are other times, more concrete than dreams. Nightmares, for example.
It had already been a few months since I’d stopped smoking.
I was on my way back from the Public Prosecutor’s department, where I had been studying the docu- ments relating to a civil action in which I was involved. And I had a bloody great desire to go into a tobaccon- ist’s, buy a packet of strong, sharp-tasting cigarettes – yellow MSs, maybe – and smoke them till my lungs burst.
I’d been hired by the parents of a little girl who’d been the victim of a paedophile. He’d waited outside her school, had called to her, and she’d followed him. They’d both gone into the entrance hall of an old apartment block. The woman caretaker had seen them, and had followed them in. The pervert was rub- bing the flies of his trousers against the girl’s face, the girl’s eyes were closed and she wasn’t saying anything.
The caretaker had screamed. The pervert had escaped, raising his collar as he did so. Simple but effective, because the caretaker hadn’t managed to get a good look at his face.
When the girl had been questioned, with the help of a nice lady psychologist, it had emerged that this hadn’t been the first time. Not even the second or third time.
The police had done their job well. They’d identi- fied the pervert, and had photographed him secretly. Outside the council office where he worked – a model employee. The girl had recognized him. She’d pointed at the photograph, her teeth chattering, and then looked away.
When the police had gone to arrest him, they’d found a collection of photos. Photos straight out of a nightmare.
The photos I’d seen that morning, in the file.
Thank you, Gianrico Carofiglio and Random Things Tours
About the Author
Gianrico Carofiglio now a member of the Senate in Italy was an anti-Mafia prosecutor in Bari, a port on the coast of Puglia. He has been involved with trials concerning corruption, organized crime and the traffic in human beings. He is a best-selling author of crime novels, literary fiction and most recently has authored a graphic novel illustrated by his brother. A fourth Guerrieri novel is in the works.