The Deliverance of Evil is shaggy book: it comes in over 600 pages, deals with multiple murders over a twenty four year period, and touches on government, police, and religious corruption in Rome. It’s an interesting backdrop, but the actual mystery didn’t grab me. The main character Michele Balestreri, is a Libyan-born Italian who was a Fascist in his youth, then infiltrated Fascist groups as part of the secret police before becoming a police officer in a quiet neighborhood in Rome. The book begins in 1982 as he’s part of a shoddy investigation into the murder of a young woman who worked for a Cardinal. He is a thoroughly unlikeable, misogynistic character in the first hundred or so pages of the book. He cleans up his act considerably as he ages, but this book fundamentally has a woman problem: they’re either objects of lust or murder, and not much else. It’s maddening.
There was so much potential in this book, but it felt like it slowed down and meandered too much. I understand part of that is because the investigation starting in 1982 was a mess, but part of it too was Costantini’s focus on personal stories at various points in the book that took away from the focus of this book’s plot. It may very well be a setup for the other books in the trilogy, though. Book two focuses on Michele’s past in Libya, which is only briefly alluded to in the first volume. I’ll be passing on it.
For more positive reviews, see EuroCrime and Thinking about books. Dave’s review expecially made me realize that I’m not a fan of antiheroes in books though I don’t mind them on television shows. I prefer to sympathize with a character, any character, in a book, and I didn’t find that in this book because the main character was so unpleasant.