Kill The Father, Italian Sandrone Dazieri’s novel, is not a piece of detective pulp fiction but a gutsy literary work into which the detective/thriller/crime genre has been subsumed to Dazieri’s ends, rare in the annals of crime fiction.
The book wields an incredibly sophisticated narrative structure capable of dragging a reader onto a roller coaster ride when least expected. There will be moments you must turn the page. Moments you fear to. His principle characters, Deputy Captain Colomba Caselli and misfit Dante Torre, are extraordinary creations in which Dazieri explores deep seated psychological themes of loss, identity, trauma, trust and compassion.
Their relationship’s genesis comes into being when Caselli’s boss, Rovere, drags her out of convalescent leave to assist in a murder/kidnapping. Caselli is struggling daily to manage the psychological aftermath of a traumatic work disaster but now, a mother is dead. A child is either kidnapped, or also dead.
With misgivings about the case’s relationship to past, similar crimes and a grudge against the investigating magistrate De Angelis’ competence, Rovere succeeds in convincing Caselli to team up off-the-record with a consultant of singular success and quirky infamy – the tall, dark haired, coffee aficionado, David Bowie like Dante Torre.
Torre’s past and observational genius comes from a decade as a child, of being holed up in a silo after being kidnapped by a man he calls ‘The Father’. A lucky escape left him with unbearable claustrophobia and an awareness of human body language, almost paranormal.
When Torre becomes involved, he is convinced the child has not only been kidnapped, his father innocent of his wife’s murder, but that the criminal responsible is that same man he knows as The Father, returned despite officially presumed to have committed suicide.
Torre’s investigative journey is deeply coloured by his intellectually astute mind’s mythic, almost religious fear of his kidnapper and teacher/tormentor, especially his eyes. Caselli’s rugged, fearless questioning of everything and her conflicting self-doubts about her desire and fitness to continue as a cop, tear her in many directions. Slowly, the pair come closer to understanding the other as they delve deeper into the mystery of The Father.
Official disbelief and disdain for Torre’s claim that his childhood kidnapper still lives, and the odd sense that The Father seems to be lurking around them, places Torre and Caselli in the extraordinary position of being in a no man’s land, chasing dangerous shadows, treading warily on the border between law and lawlessness, life and death.
The blend of thrill-laced moments of action and spell binding passages of gracious, insightful character observation and mellow introspection makes this novel a deliciously satisfying experience. Kill the Father is the first in a series of novels planned, based around the characters of Colomba Caselli and Dante Torre. This writer confesses to already being a rusted-on fan, eager for the second book.
Reviewed by David O’Brien
Rating out of 10: 10
Distributed by: Simon and Schuster Australia
Release Date: January 2017
RRP: $29.99 paperback, $14.99 eBook