February 2014 Indie Next List
“Masterfully delivering a mystery that explores modern Italian history, the complexities of relationships, and the depths of evil, Costantini's The Deliverance of Evil is an intriguing thrill ride. Commissario Michele Balistreri, once young and impulsive, now older and haunted, must investigate a series of twisted killings and their connections to an evil from years ago. Costantini has created both an unforgettable, complex character in Balistreri and a mystery that never stops surprising the reader.”
— Luisa Smith, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA
Winner of the Scerbanenco Prize for the best Italian crime thriller, The Deliverance of Evil is a masterful psychological thriller about an edgy policeman's personal evolution--or devolution--as seen through the lens of a devilish case that consumed him early in his career and continues to haunt him twenty-four years later.
With excitement over Berlusconi rise to power and Italy in a state of gleeful and frenzied anticipation over the national soccer team's improbable run to the 1982 World Cup, Italians are filled with hopeful feelings. The night before the big match, Elisa Sordi--an attractive eighteen year-old employed by the Vatican--vanishes. The case falls to a young, hedonistic post-Fascist officer named Michele Balistreri. Headstrong and ambivalent about spending his life as a policeman, Balistreri is annoyed to be interrupted during the festivities and takes the case lightly. But when Elisa's tortured corpse surfaces in the Tiber, Balistreri doubts he will ever be able to forgive himself for his inattention. After the man he arrested for the murder is exonerated, and tantalizing links to the Vatican and top right-wing politicians ignored, the case is never solved. Despondent, Michele spirals into drinking and depression.
Twenty-four years later Italy is victorious once again in the World Cup, but the nation has changed. The balloon of optimism from the Eighties has deflated, and the now-gloomy nation suffers under the arrogant and corrupt Berlusconi government. A weak economy and chaotic immigration policies that have inflamed racist sentiments provide a stark contrast to the last time Italy tasted sweet soccer victory. Disturbingly, more lax divorce laws have spawned a trend of "revenge" violence against women who try to assert their independence.
Suddenly Sordi's mother apparently commits suicide, and then a slew of female corpses begin to turn up all with a letter of the alphabet carved into their bodies. The apparent hate behind the murders causes Balistreri to realize that the case that has haunted for twenty-four years may be heating up again, and with a newfound sense of purpose he charges into his work: the opportunity to redeem the darkest part of his past.
The murders continue, and what initially seemed to be the work of a lone psychopath reveals itself to be part of something much bigger and more dangerous. Finally Balistreri realizes that the letters marking each victim are spelling out a chilling message.
About the Author
Roberto Costantini was born to Italian parents in Libya, where he spent the first eighteen years of his life. He was educated as a mechanical engineer, and also earned an MBA from Stanford University. After a thirty-year career working for American companies in many different countries, he is now a manager of the LUISS Guido Carli University in Rome, where he also teaches Leadership and Negotiation in the MBA program. The Deliverance of Evil is his first novel and the first in a planned trilogy, the second of which will focus on Michele Balistreri's adolescence in Libya during the rise of Gaddafi.
“Rich with fascinating political history, filled with brilliant psychological insight, and a nonstop thriller . . . Bravo!” — Jeffery Deaver, The October List
“Utterly compelling” — Peter May, author of The Blackhouse
“Completely riveting . . . This is a take-no-prisoners view of a corrupt society and a guide on what it takes to survive and prosper. The detail of the police procedural is brilliantly managed and, as we get closer to the end, the thriller wattage increases with increasingly desperate police officers chasing their tails as bullets fly and a key person is kidnapped.” —David Marshall, San Francisco Book Review
“[Constantini] delivers compelling drama . . . the gripping strength of the novel lies in its passionate portrayal of a corrupt and criminal Italy, from seedy traffickers to the Vatican.” — Marcel Berlins, The Times
“Crime stories offer a fine vehicle for state-of-the-nation investigations. Italy is more of a challenge than well-ordered Scandinavia, but Roberto Costantini rises to it with ease . . . sprawling, violent and beset by a tortured morality, this is a compelling vision of modern Italy.” — Mail on Sunday
“Readers can immerse themselves in la dolce vita as Costantini's charismatic detective, Commissario Michele Balistreri, solves a complex mystery centered on the nature of evil. . . . Costantini tells an engrossing story of corruption and revenge, until near the end, when he kills off all the suspects, leaving little doubt as to the identity of the murderer.” — Anna Creer, The Sidney Morning Herald
“[A] tale of personal and political corruption, expediency and revenge engages . . . Costantini has created a fascinating protagonist, first seen as a thirtysomething womaniser with fascist sympathies, and then as an older, sadder and wiser man, bent on making amends for past mistakes.” — Laura Wilson, The Guardian
"[A] commanding debut thriller. . . . Costantini spins a politically charged, Machiavellian tale of fiendish complexity." —Publishers Weekly
“A promising debut . . . [a] complex crime novel that moves from savage murder to the political and social realities of contemporary Italy.” —Kirkus Reviews
“In his debut Costantini has proven himself an absolute master.” — Antonio D'Orrico, Corriere della Sera
“The Deliverance of Evil is one of the most unusual (and successful) recent thrillers.” — Antonio Gnoli, La Repubblica
“An intricate and ambitious thriller that tells of our country and our times, of the tensions, madness, and its heartfelt humanity.” — Elle (Italy)
“The Deliverance of Evil is a remarkably dark thriller which starts against the backdrop of Italy winning the World Cup in 1982 and concludes in 2006 just as they are about to be victorious again. A vicious murderer who first struck twenty-four years earlier is waiting to kill again. The author combines the plotting and pace of international crime with the poise and prowess of literary fiction, striating the narrative with topical political insight”—Ali Karim, Shotsmag
"Completely riveting . . . This is a take-no-prisoners view of a corrupt society and a guide on what it takes to survive and prosper. The detail of the police procedural is brilliantly managed and, as we get closer to the end, the thriller wattage increases with increasingly desperate police officers chasing their tails as bullets fly and a key person is kidnapped."—San Francisco Book Review
"The engaging Italian police procedural provides the audience with a fascinating psychological look at how ugly nuturing turns a human into an amoral evil."—Harriet Klausner, Midwest Book Review