Darkness for the Bastards of Pizzofalcone (Bastards of Pizzofalcone Series #2)

Darkness for the Bastards of Pizzofalcone (Bastards of Pizzofalcone Series #2)

Darkness for the Bastards of Pizzofalcone (Bastards of Pizzofalcone Series #2)

Darkness for the Bastards of Pizzofalcone (Bastards of Pizzofalcone Series #2)


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Second in the contemporary Italian crime fiction series featuring Inspector Lojacono by the bestselling author of the Commissario Ricciardi novels.

A kidnapped child and the burglary of a high-class apartment: Two crimes that seem to have no connection at all until Inspector Lojacono, known as “The Chinaman,” starts to investigate.
Darkness for the Bastards of Pizzofalcone is the second book in a series set in contemporary Naples that draws inspiration from Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct novels and features a large cast of complicated cops doing battle with ruthless criminals.
De Giovanni is one of the most dexterous and successful writers of crime fiction currently working in Europe. His award-winning and bestselling novels, all set in Naples, offer a brilliant vision of the criminal underworld and the police that battle it in Europe’s most fabled, atmospheric, dangerous, and lustful city.

“Imagine Fellini and Chandler collaborating on a Neapolitan remake of Our Town, and that begins to give you an idea of what you’re in for with Darkness for the Bastards of Pizzofalcone. . . While de Giovanni never wavers from a world where terrible people do terrible things, motivated by selfishness, greed, and loathing (for themselves, for others, for both), he illuminates the soft underbelly of fear and loss without being manipulative.”—Los Angeles Review of Books

“The police characters are flawed, lovable, and believable—you cannot but take to them . . . Naples comes through loud and clear in the story.”—Tripfiction

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781609453374
Publisher: Europa Editions, Incorporated
Publication date: 08/02/2016
Series: Bastards of Pizzofalcone Series , #2
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Maurizio de Giovanni 's Commissario Ricciardi books are bestsellers across Europe, having sold well over 1 million copies. De Giovanni is also the author of the contemporary Neapolitan thriller, The Crocodile (Europa, 2013) and the new contemporary Neapolitan series, The Bastards of Pizzofalcone. He lives in Naples with his family.

Antony Shugaar 's translations for Europa Editions include  For Grace Recieved  by Valeria Parrella,  Everybody's Right  by Paolo Sorrentino, Fabio Bartolomei's  Alfa Romeo 1300 and Other Miracles , and  Margherita Dolce Vita  by Stefano Benni.

Read an Excerpt




The whisper in the dark, in the dank smell, amidst all the dust.


The whoosh of a cape, slicing through the air in front of Dodo's face.


Dodo can see it because of the darkness. It's darker than the night, darker than the cubbyhole in his bedroom, the one with the door that never quite shuts and often swings back open with a creak.

His bedroom, warm. His bedroom, with the Avengers poster, with his album collections and his action figure collections on a shelf. Arranged by size and story, so that when the housekeeper dusts them, he has to put them all back where they belong. At the thought of his room, of the Avengers and the action figures, tears well up and Dodo swallows them.

Dark in here. The dark is always full of noises. The dark is never quiet for long.

Every night, in his faraway room, Dodo waits for Mamma's door to close and then pulls out the little nightlight from when he was three. No one knows about his little nightlight, the kind that you plug right into the wall, that emits just a faint glow, a glow you can hardly even call light.

How I wish I could be in my room, right now. Even if the cubbyhole door won't stay closed.

Dodo chokes back his tears and jerks at a rustling from the far corner. He couldn't even say how big this place is. He's certainly not about to go exploring.

Batman, he calls as he tightens his sweaty little hand around the action figure. It's a good thing I brought you with me to school this morning. Even if they scold me, even if they tell me I'm not supposed to bring toys to school because now I'm a big boy, I'm almost ten. You and I know it though, that you're not a toy. You're a hero.

When I talk to Papà about it that's what we always say, right? That you're the greatest superhero of them all. That you're the best there is, the strongest. Papà explained it to me, when I was little and we still lived together, when he'd give me piggyback rides and tell me: You're my little king, see, and I'm your giant, I'll take you wherever you want.

Papà explained to me why you're the best hero of them all: It's because you don't have superpowers.

Everyone's great at beating the bad guys if they know how to fly, or if they have superstrength, or eyes that shoot green rays. It's easy that way.

But you, Batman, you're just an ordinary man. But you're brave and you're smart. Do the others fly? Then you invent rockets that fit into your utility belt, or you shoot ropes up onto the tops of tall buildings and climb right up the side. Can the others run at superspeed? Then you have the Batmobile, which runs even faster. You're a hero among heroes, Batman. Because you have the most superpowerful superpower there is: courage. You're like my papà.

I never told Papà that I pull the nightlight out of my drawer at night. I don't want him to think that I'm not courageous. The problem is that I'm still kind of a little kid, but everyone tells me that I look like my papà, and he's big and strong.

You know, Batman, even if you're a hero and it seems as if you're not afraid of anything, I know that, in this big dark room where they tossed us after taking us, even you are just a little bit afraid. I am, too, a little; but just a little. Still, we don't need to worry, because my papà's going to come get us out of here.

Fly, Batman, fly. You're the dark knight, master of the shadows. You're not afraid of the dark, and I can hold onto you as you fly. Fly.

A fist slams against sheet metal, a terrible echoing crash that deafens, blinds, stops the blood. The action figure falls to the floor, the plastic made slippery by the sweaty hand no longer able to grip.

Dodo shrieks in terror, starts, and recoils; then, desperate, he feels around on the ground with both hands: dust, sharp pebbles, gravel, crumpled paper. He finds the action figure, picks it up, and holds it to his face, his cheek streaked with sudden tears. Outside, a roar reverberates, a command barked in a language he doesn't understand.

He crouches in a corner; his back, under his shirt, scratched by the wall; his heart pounding in his ears as if it wants to run away.

Batman, Batman, don't worry. My papà will come and get us.

Because he's my giant, and I'm his little king.


The minute he peeked through the door into the communal office, the expression on Corporal Marco Aragona's face changed.

"There, I knew it. It's 8:29 A.M. and you're all here already. Don't any of you have lives? And yet you do have homes and families, at least some of you: How can it be that no matter how early in the morning I get here, I always find you guys?"

It had become something of a running joke, Aragona's all but daily habit of showing up in the office just a couple of minutes before the scheduled start of the day and noting, disappointedly, the presence of every member of the Pizzofalcone precinct house's investigative team, already sitting at their desks.

Deputy Captain Giorgio Pisanelli broke off reading a police report and shot him an amused glance over his bifocals.

"One more minute and you'd have been late for work, Arago'. And we might have been duty-bound to write you up."

The junior officer sat down at his desk and swept off his blue-tinted glasses with a well-rehearsed gesture:

"Mr. President, if I hadn't come in talking you wouldn't have even noticed I was here. Old age is a cruel master ..." The oldest and the youngest member of the team liked to poke regular fun at each other, the former in the tone of a teacher addressing a dimwitted student, the latter harping on senile dementia. "Plus, what fun do you get out of being in here when it's so beautiful outside? You're going to have to explain that to me one of these days."

Peeking her head out from behind her computer screen, Ottavia Calabrese replied: "But if there's no murder by eight in the morning, that doesn't mean we can all just go have ourselves a good time, don't you agree, Aragona? And stop tormenting Pisanelli with this habit of calling him President . . . That's the last thing his ego needs."

"You listen to me, Ottavia: You're just jealous, pure and simple. You wish someone would call you Madame President. But it'll never happen: You are now and will always be our den mother. And have you taken a good look at Pisanelli? Don't you see the resemblance? Plus his first name is Giorgio too, and they're both about the same age." With a nod, Aragona indicated the framed portrait hanging on the wall of the detectives' bullpen, the only decorative feature amidst the pallid green of that nondescript and desolate room that contained practically their entire lives. Then, scratching the clean-shaven, sunlamped chest on display under his flower-print shirt, the three top buttons of which had been left open, he turned theatrically to Pisanelli. "Go ahead and confess, Mr. President: To better serve your country you've infiltrated the Bastards of Pizzofalcone."

Ottavia relinquished her right of rebuttal and vanished behind her computer. By mentioning the Bastards, Aragona had summoned the spectre of the unpleasant fiasco that had led to that team of lawmen becoming what they were today. Right down to their nicknames. If the city's entire police force referred to them by using a collective insult, they certainly had good cause. Four police detectives in that precinct had been caught redhanded dealing cocaine, and Ottavia, with Pisanelli, had been an eyewitness to the sordid affair. Only the two of them had survived. Internal Affairs had turned their lives inside out as if they'd been a pair of socks, and it had taken the hand of God to persuade those feral beasts that the two of them had had nothing to do with the crooked cops. IA had gone so far as to threaten to shut down the precinct entirely. The four renegade cops, now universally referred to as the Bastards of Pizzofalcone, had been replaced. But the mark of shame remained. And once the investigation had been closed, everyone had continued to use that name for the refurbished precinct and its replacement crew. Ottavia still couldn't quite wrap her head around it.

But the new squad, cobbled together from discards of all shapes and sizes from the four corners of the city, faced with the dilemma of whether to meekly accept the insult or fight back, had chosen to take it as a badge of pride. To the collective nickname they'd started to attach individual ones. Because "remarkable people, the ones who wind up in the spotlight for whatever reason, always have nicknames," as Aragona had ventured one day. Ottavia hadn't been able to stifle a laugh. Yes, she liked that one. And she hadn't minded that freshly coined Den Mother either, in spite of its mocking edge. She'd thought about objecting, but then she'd decided that that's actually what she was, their den mother. She never missed a trick, even tucked away behind her beloved computer, and every time they needed something, they all turned to her. As if to a den mother. And after all, she was something of a den mother in real life, what with her son. She was the only woman on the squad who had a child.

"What about the Chinaman, where's he? At least he hasn't come in yet this morning."

This time Marco Aragona had set his sights on Lieutenant Giuseppe Lojacono, the man who'd caught the Crocodile; he'd been dubbed "the Chinaman" because of his Asian features.

"Not only is he already here," Ottavia, ever fastidious, informed him, "he's already on the job. A call came in on a burglary around 7:10 this morning, and he went out."

Aragona was stunned: "At 7:10? What's he doing, sleeping in the office?" "It wouldn't just be him doing the sleeping; if anything, it would be them. Alex was here too, they went out together."

Alex Di Nardo, the other woman on the investigative team, looked at first glance like a slender, delicate young woman, but she was a crack shot, capable of picking off a fly at thirty yards. She went to the firing range twice a week: what else could they call her if not Calamity? "That way everyone knows just how afraid of her they need to be," Aragona had said one morning. Just now, Corporal Aragona was making a show of combing his hair, checking the results in a hand mirror. He had an Elvis-style pompadour that added a good inch to his height, which was decidedly not that of a basketball player; the hairdo was also a useful way of concealing a bald spot at the very top of his head that was making good on its threat to grow larger.

"What about our fearless leader, Otta'? No need to say a word, he's already in, too, isn't he?"

As he said that, Aragona had glanced pointedly at the half-closed door of the adjoining room: the office of Commissario Gigi Palma. Then he turned with mocking sarcasm to Francesco Romano, the last resident of the detectives' office, who had been barricaded behind his computer the whole time, in complete silence. He was a huge man, broad-shouldered, with a bull neck and a surly expression that advised against starting down any dangerous lines of inquiry. At least it advised the ordinary questioner; it had no effect on Marco Aragona, who was irrepressible that morning:

"Hey there, Hulk! You got your nickname at your old precinct, didn't you? Look out, now he's going to lose his temper, turn lime green, and rip his shirt to pieces ..."

Romano grumbled darkly: "What would you say if I ripped your shirt to pieces instead? It is, by the way, a horrible piece of clothing."

"Look I paid more for this shirt than all your raggedy wardrobes are worth put together. It's just that you're an old-fashioned hick who doesn't understand real fashion. And it's precisely because I dress casually that I don't look like a cop, while people can smell you pigs coming from a mile away. By the way, while we're on the subject of nicknames, mine ought to be Serpico, because I'm the spitting image, I mean the exact spitting image, of Al Pacino."

Romano snorted: "Al Cappuccino they ought to call you, with that hairdo. If I were you, I'd try to follow that old saying about how the less you talk, the less bullshit you spout. It's true, you don't look like a cop: You look like a standup comedian, the kind still doing open mics."

Aragona glared at him, offended: "No two ways about it, you're past your sell-by date. You don't understand that the profession is evolving, and cops like you are going to wind up like the dinosaurs: long-extinct fossils. Why, did you know that ..."

The phone rang.


Commissario Luigi Palma looked up from the papers on the desk in front of him and tried to catch the voices that reached him through the door he'd left ajar.

His rule had always been never to shut himself up in his office. He wanted his coworkers to feel free to come in and talk to him whenever they needed to; but here, in Pizzofalcone, one of his two doors gave onto the large room that he had decided to convert from a cafeteria into a shared office for the investigative squad, and he worried that some might think he was trying to keep an eye on them. That would achieve the opposite effect: Instead of a first among equals, a sort of older brother whose job it was to supervise investigative activity, rather than to give orders, he would become a mistrustful warden looking to eavesdrop on their conversations.

Any attitude could easily be misunderstood. He was well aware that this wasn't going to be easy; even the chief of police, in their last conversation before assigning him the post, had all but tried to talk Palma out of taking the job. Palma was on his way up, and sooner or later a cushier, more prestigious position would open up somewhere, and he'd have a chance to make the most of his considerable abilities.

But Palma had never liked things easy and, truth be told, he didn't have a lot to lose. The chief of police, though, had no way of knowing that.

Palma was much less interested in his career than one might have imagined by looking at the absolute commitment he lavished on his work. The truth was simple: He had nothing else in his life.

He'd lost both parents a few years ago, first his mother, shortly thereafter his father. They were elderly; Palma thought of himself as "the son of old parents" since he'd been born when his father was in his fifites and his mother in her forties. His older brother had Down syndrome and had died at the age of twenty, leaving a crater of calm grief in the hearts of his kin that would stay with them for the rest of their lives. Palma wanted children of his own, but the woman he'd married didn't; she was consumed by her work as a doctor, which left no room for anything else. And so, over time, though neither had wanted it to happen, a deep abyss had carved itself between them, and it had been a relief for them both when they had decided first to separate and, later, to divorce.

At that point, Palma had taken a look around. A gentle, affectionate, effusive man who no longer had a birth family, and hadn't created one of his own. Man proposes, fate disposes.

Since he had a natural gift and inclination for running groups, in the end, his job had become his family. And inevitably that had been recognized, which resulted in his serving as deputy captain in a quiet precinct in a residential district where, after his superior officer had taken seriously ill, he'd had a chance to shine as the youngest and most dynamic official in the city's police department.

When his superior officer, the commissario, had resigned to fight his last battle, Palma expected to be promoted to the now empty office; and that's what his men — many of them his seniors — would have wanted; they all valued his sincerity and modesty. But what's logical and right is so rarely done in this world and a woman with more prestigious credentials and stronger political support in Rome had arrived from another city.

It was neither anger nor envy that had prompted him to leave after that. Quite simply, he knew it would be impossible to keep the precinct running efficiently. He needed to step aside: If he had stayed on, his men would have defied the authority of their new commanding officer and continued to turn to him for help, since he knew the district, the men, and the balance of power in the precinct.

It was then that the affair of the Bastards of Pizzofalcone had gone down, delivering a true body blow to the public image of the local police. Like so many of his colleagues who battled from dawn till dusk, with hard work and great pain, against the decay of life on the streets and in the vicoli, largely at the hands of their own inhabitants, Palma had been disgusted, had felt immense rage. But when he learned that the chief of police intended to shut down the precinct entirely, admitting de facto defeat, he rebelled against the idea.


Excerpted from "Darkness"
by .
Copyright © 2013 Giulio Einaudi Editore SpA, Torino.
Excerpted by permission of Europa Editions.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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