The Memory Key (Commissario Alec Blume Series #4)

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Overview

In the latest Commissario Alec Blume novel, our hero is called in by old friend magistrate Principe to "shadow" an investigation into the attempted murder of a former fascist terrorist responsible for a public bombing thirty years earlier. This investigation is adjacent to another: the murder of a young woman on the university campus of Rome. The apparent link between these two crimes is an articulate, learned, and thoroughly crazy professor called Pitagora, who teaches both literature and a system enigmatic ...

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The Memory Key: A Commissario Alec Blume Novel

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Overview

In the latest Commissario Alec Blume novel, our hero is called in by old friend magistrate Principe to "shadow" an investigation into the attempted murder of a former fascist terrorist responsible for a public bombing thirty years earlier. This investigation is adjacent to another: the murder of a young woman on the university campus of Rome. The apparent link between these two crimes is an articulate, learned, and thoroughly crazy professor called Pitagora, who teaches both literature and a system enigmatic memory techniques. Professor Pitagora is up-front about his political beliefs, but could his strange psychological program be masking something important?

All the investigators know the two crimes form part of the same nexus, but Blume believes he can find clues through the Professor. If only he were actually assigned to this case...

Meanwhile, Blume has been living with Caterina and not finding it easy - or rather, poor old Caterina is not finding it easy living with him. Will the strains in their relationship lead Blume astray? And can he successfully navigate the ranks of his distrustful colleagues, a rocky relationship, and a high-profile investigation—all without crossing the line?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The sniper’s bullet doesn’t quite dispatch notorious terrorist Stefania Manfellotto, but the investigation into the attack on the Rome university campus that leaves Manfellotto brain damaged—as well as the subsequent fatal shooting there six months later of witness Sofia Fontana—could finally deal a death blow to the career of Commissioner Alec Blume in Fitzgerald’s cerebral fourth mystery featuring the maverick American expat (after 2012’s The Namesake). By rights, Blume shouldn’t even be involved in the politically sensitive probe, which falls under the jurisdiction of the rival Carabinieri. But that detail isn’t about to deter him once his old mentor, magistrate Filippo Principe, appeals for help, any more than he would dream of changing his opinion on a road rage homicide just because his lover, Chief Insp. Caterina Mattiola, sees it differently. Blume’s readiness to pursue any leads in an increasingly puzzling case helps make him an outstanding detective, but also, within a society that puts such a premium on personal relationships, a perennial outsider. Agent: Sarah Ballard, United Agents. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
"The sniper’s bullet doesn’t quite dispatch notorious terrorist Stefania Manfellotto, but the investigation into the attack on the Rome university campus that leaves Manfellotto brain damaged—as well as the subsequent fatal shooting there six months later of witness Sofia Fontana—could finally deal a death blow to the career of Commissioner Alec Blume in Fitzgerald’s cerebral fourth mystery featuring the maverick American expat (after 2012’s The Namesake). By rights, Blume shouldn’t even be involved in the politically sensitive probe, which falls under the jurisdiction of the rival Carabinieri. But that detail isn’t about to deter him once his old mentor, magistrate Filippo Principe, appeals for help, any more than he would dream of changing his opinion on a road rage homicide just because his lover, Chief Insp. Caterina Mattiola, sees it differently. Blume’s readiness to pursue any leads in an increasingly puzzling case helps make him an outstanding detective, but also, within a society that puts such a premium on personal relationships, a perennial outsider." — Publishers Weekly
Library Journal
10/15/2013
A woman is shot dead in Rome. The crime is linked to a terrorist bombing two decades earlier. In his fourth outing (after The Namesake), Commissario Alec Blume of the Polizia de Stato hasn't been officially assigned to the investigation—it's the business of the Carabinieri (Italian military police), not the polizia—but he agrees to shadow it for a friend, a magistrate, to ensure the Carabinieri don't bury the case. Around the working out of a complicated puzzle that involves politics, academics, and love, Fitzgerald inserts sly asides about life and people. One that will especially appeal to any librarian is this: asked what Blume has on his lap at a meeting, he says that it's a Kindle, "a sort of unfriendly book." VERDICT A solid mystery with appealing characters.
Kirkus Reviews
Fitzgerald presents the fourth installment in a series involving Alec Blume, an American expat (and now Italian citizen) who slowly and methodically tracks down the killer of a young lab assistant and solves the mystery behind a terrorist bombing. The novel opens in 1980, when a woman leaves a suitcase full of explosives at a train station in Central Italy, killing everyone within 15 meters of the explosion. While this is obviously an act of political violence, there's no certainty as to its perpetrator, though some leads point to professor Pitagora, a brilliant man who's popularized a method of mnemonic memorization but who's also a fascist--and he flaunts his beliefs proudly. A generation later, two things happen in such close sequence that Blume suspects they're connected. First, the woman responsible for the train station bombing, Stefania Manfellotto, is hospitalized with brain damage after she's shot (and after having served 27 years for her earlier crime). The week before she's shot, she'd had an argument with professor Pitagora, though according to the latter, arguments between the two of them were a regular occurrence. Second, Sofia Fontana, a young woman working as a lab assistant at a health institute, is shot by the same rifle used against Stefania. Although Pitagora proclaims his innocence, his mocking and ironic bantering rubs Blume the wrong way. And, as if working out the intricacies of these murders is not enough, Blume is having trouble on the home front with Caterina, his lover--and fellow police officer. While Blume gets words of wisdom about love and loneliness from his terminally ill mentor, Magistrate Filippo Principe, it turns out Filippo might also be involved in the case Blume is investigating. Occasionally slow-moving, Fitzgerald's novel is heavy on both procedure and the convolutions of character.
From the Publisher
"Blume . . . is utterly fascinating, his human shortcoming mirroring our own and forcing us to root for him. If you're drawn to Andrea Camilleri's similarly though not so seriously flawed Salvo Montalbano, you'll be equally hooked by Alec Blume." —Booklist  

 

"With The Memory Key, Fitzgerald has created another gripping mystery featuring the irresistibly stubborn Blume . . . Readers cannot help but root for him. Fans of Donna Leon or Andrea Camillieri are bound to enjoy The Memory Key and its vivid Roman setting." —Shelf Awareness

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781620401118
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 8/6/2013
  • Series: Commissario Alec Blume Series , #4
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,034,364
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Conor Fitzgerald has lived in Ireland, the UK, the United States and Italy. He has worked as an arts editor, produced a current affairs journal for foreign embassies based in Rome, and founded a successful translation company. He is married with two children and lives in Rome. The Memory Theater is the fourth in his series of Italian Crime novels.

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