Carte Blanche is the first installment in Carlo Lucarelli’s “De Luca Trilogy”. The action takes place just before the end of WWII in Northern Italy during the last days of the fascist regime. The book opens with the explosion of a bomb at a funeral procession while Commissario De Luca is on his way to the scene of a crime. De Luca, the Republic’s brightest police investigator, has just been transferred to the police from the fascist Political Police. He has carte blanche, full support, to find the murderer of a member of the Fascist Republican Party, Vittorio Rehinard. Rehinard has been killed and castrated by who knows who with a paper knife; the weapon has gone missing. But soon De Luca understands that neither the police Chief nor the Party Secretary cares about finding the murderer. He is right in the middle of a political struggle. De Luca and his men are being used like soldiers at war who get killed if they are not careful.
From the Publisher: “Carte Blanche is much more than a first-rate crime story. It is also an investigation into the workings of justice in a state that is crumbling under the weight of profound historic change. The “De Luca Trilogy” is set during one of the 20th century’s seminal moments and describes a nation’s ardent search to rediscover its moral bearings after being torn in two by civil strife and political corruption. Threatened by the machinations of a decaying political class, De Luca (himself reminiscent of the disenchanted Dashiell Hammett PI) is a simple man doing a tough job as best he can. Even after closing his investigation, he will still have to face one final, fateful decision.”
This is an original and fast paced police procedural; readers should not miss the preface in which Lucarelli explains the process that took him to write this excellent book. A highly satisfactory experience for my taste and easy to read given its size, slightly above 100 pages. I’m eager to read the rest of his trilogy soon.
Carlo Lucarelli is one of Italy’s best-loved crime writers. He was born in Parma in 1960. His publishing debut came with the extremely successful De Luca Trilogy (Carte Blanche, The Damned Season, Via delle Oche) in 1990 and he has since published over a dozen novels and collections of stories. He conducts the program Blue Night on Italian network television, and his novels Almost Blue and Lupo Mannaro have both been made into successful films. (From the Publisher).
Carlo Lucarelli Web site (in Italian)
Lucarelli’s profile on Wikipedia (in Italian)
You may also find of interest: Black & Blue: An Introduction to Mediterranean Noir
Author: Carlo Lucarelli
Title: Carte Blanche
Original title: Carta bianca, 1990
Translated from the Italian by Michael Reynolds
Europa editions, 2006
Number of pages: 120