Northern Italy, 1978: Commissario Piero Trotti, trusted senior police investigator in an anonymous provincial city off the River Po, has two difficult cases to solve. A dismembered body has been found in the river, and it’s up to Trotti to figure out who the murder victim is. At the same time, an estranged friend approaches Trotti with a desperate personal plea: his six-year-old daughter—Trotti’s own goddaughter—has been kidnapped. In the wake of the high-profile kidnapping of Aldo Moro, president of Italy’s majority party, faith in law enforcement is at an all-time low, and it’s no surprise the distraught father isn’t willing to take this matter to the police.
“By far the best thriller to appear so far this year and I cannot truly see it being bettered … The atmosphere is electric and the writing is stylish yet tense. ” – Punch Magazine
“In Converging Parallels, Timothy Williams combines a lament for a decaying society with a kidnapping case in a small, municipally proud, communist controlled Italian city … a bright new talent. ”
The Puppeteer is the follow-up to CWA award-winner Timothy Williams’s dazzling crime fiction debut, Converging Parallels. Northern Italy, 1982: Inspector Piero Trotti is enjoying his breakfast at a café when gunmen drive up and shoot the man sitting at the next table. Was Trotti their intended target? He isn’t sure. The case falls under the jurisdiction of the local Carabinieri, but Trotti decides to make his own inquiries. This tautly written novel brings us to the depths of a corrupt, scheming Italian society in which bank officials, clergymen, masons, lawyers, and, of course, politicians are all suspect of resorting to criminal activity for personal gain. Only the police are presumed trustworthy, and even they are sorely divided by departmental rivalries and jealousies.
“A fine novel for those seeking something a little out of the ordinary … a phlegmatic, intellectual detective, and a North Italian milieu flavored with oregano, olive oil, left-wing polities and crime … The plotting is crisp and the details pungent. ”
“Commissario Trotti is clever and tough … His investigation is fascinating to an American reader because it offers insights into the Italian power structure, which is far more interesting than it is stable. ” – Newsday
PERSONA NON GRATA
Northern Italy, 1985: Commissario Piero Trotti is on the verge of retirement from the police force. He is 56 years old, and though he is widely respected for his integrity and work ethic, he is not widely liked. The junior detectives he works with transfer because he’s too hard on them; his fellow commissioner is trying to force him out. Even his family has walked out of his life: his adult daughter has moved to Bologna, and his wife has left him for New York. All signs are telling Trotti that he needs to make a change.
Instead, he digs in his heels. The city is in an uproar after a young girl is attacked in her bed by an intruder. Aided by the one junior officer who still listens to him—a dogged, unflinching female brigadier named Ciuffi—Trotti sets to work, trying to figure out the truth.
“This third Commissario Trotti book lives up to the high promise of the first two . . . A stylish thriller-cum-police procedural both clever in conception and brilliant in execution. ” – Irish Times
Commissario Trotti of Italy’s Polizia di Stato is called to the scene of the brutal murder of an old friend, schoolteacher Rosanna Belloni, who has been found bludgeoned in her apartment. Trotti’s superiors warn him off the case, but he is determined to hunt down the killer.
There are lots of loose ends. Rosanna’s sister, a notorious drug addict, is missing. Is a recent, unexplained suicide in the River Po connected to the murder? Where does the discovery of a car dredged up from the delta fit in? Faced with a seemingly unsolvable mystery, Trotti must also grapple with obstructive colleagues and problems arising in his private life.
“Williams won a Crime Writers’ Association award for this fourth volume in the Trotti series, which excels in depicting contemporary Italy … Listeners will enjoy learning a bit of Italian history as Trotti finally nabs the killer.” – Audiofile Magazine
“Williams writes like an angel. He does, but thank Beelzebub, it’s a mongrel angel with a bit of fiend about him.” – Oxford Times
Northern Italy, 1993: After what seems like several lifetimes as a policeman in the Questura, Commissario Trotti is ready for retirement. Soon, he’ll be able to fulfill his dream of moving to the countryside villa he co-owns with his cousin, where his daily business will be tending to goats and chickens.
But despite Trotti’s stubbornly old-fashioned investigative methods and his disregard for social niceties, there are several people trying to talk him out of retirement. Trotti’s boss offers him a golden opportunity as head of the Questura’s new child abuse division.
Meanwhile, Fabrizio Bassi, a reckless, womanizing private detective who worked under Trotti years ago before being kicked off the force, approaches him for help. Bassi has been investigating the death of a murdered doctor, and he has a conspiracy theory that extends to the highest reaches of government. Trotti declines, annoyed by the request. But when Bassi is found in a ditch with a bullet in his head, Trotti decides to take on one last murder case after all.
“Wake up and smell the grappa. Big Italy is a chilling education, a scalpel-sharp exploration of Italy’s body politic. Timothy Williams knows the ABC of corruption—Andreotti, Berlusconi, Craxi—and is a convincing and compelling voice. ” – Ian Rankin