Danish title: Fordærv
Author: Nadia Dalbuono
Published: Alhambra, 2018
Series: Leone Scamarcio #1
The Few is the first novel in a series about the experienced detective Leone Scamarcio. Scamarcio is the son of an Italian mafiaoso, which means that Scamarcio must fight for his integrity as a roman detective. Scamarcio is called to a private meeting with his boss, who orders him to look into a case – unofficially.
It is the case of a dead rent boy, who was found murdered in his own bed, and some photos of this same rent boy in a delicate situation with some high-ranking members of the Italian society. Scamarcio is suddenly deeply involved in this case, trying to keep it as secret as he possibly can whilst also doubting whether that is in fact the right move. As the case unfolds and turns into something bigger and more horrid than anyone could have imagined, Scamarcio also finds himself slowly coming undone.
The Few is one of those crime novels that let you follow the detective in his work, his thoughts and his private life. We hear nothing about the crimes done from either the culprit’s or the victim’s point of view. This leaves the reader in just as much darkness and just as confused as our main character Scamarcio.
I found it hard to adjust to the italian names, and for a long time this confused me a lot. The characters also went by their first name sometimes, but their last name at other times. Despite this fact, I found the story to be very captivating. And I did adjust to the names, so don’t worry about this.
The mystery of the dead rent boy leads Scamarcio to the island of Elba where an Amercian girl has been kidnapped. Trying to put these two episodes together seems almost impossible, which made the story even more intriguing. I like this aspect of crime stories, because I can keep guessing and guessing and guessing. It puts my mind to work and sometimes that’s just the sort of book you need.
The plot was well-planned and for a long time I did not spot the connections. The crimes described were really quite disturbing and gruesome, and I keep hoping that people aren’t really like that out in the world. The sad truth, though, is that they probably are. The fact is, that this novel felt very realistic, which is probably a huge part of why I liked it.
Scamarcio was well-written and Dalbuono has definitely seen to that he will be a character, you’d want to know more about in the coming novels. He is very independent and hard-working. He is brusque, but at the same time very human. He’s a professional at his job and strives to do things by the book, but at the same time he is conflicted by his orders and by his background, which makes him very interesting.
Overall, I found this novel slightly confusing, yet captivating. Scamarcio is a difficult character to like, but at the same time, he is hard not to like. I am sure I would not have liked this story as much, had he not been in it. Dalbuono does an exceptional job at subtle character description; where the characters slowly unfold and develop through actions and phrases.
I did however find that the story moved a bit slow. It was undeniably a good thing in regards to my understanding of the different scenarios, since I was so confused by the names and the plot, but in regards to reading motivation, I would have preferred if it hadn’t felt so long.
Should you read it?
If you have made it this far, my guess is you generally like crime novels, which is always a good starting point! The Few is packed with twists and turns and an unpredictable storyline that will take you through various ideas in your head.
The main character is relatable and very human. If, like me, you have grown weary of the stereotypes of an old male detective, who probably drinks more than he is supposed to and who has given up his marriage because of the job, then fear not: This is not that kind of detective. Scamarcio may not be married and his lovelife may not be perfect, but he still feels like a different kind of detective, and I sincerely hope that he is intended to stay this way (for a while).
If you enjoy a well-planned plot, that will keep you wondering even whenever you put down your book, this could also be for you. And if you kind of like to read about horrible crimes, this could definitely be for you too! And this could definitely be for you, if you are the kind that likes to read a realistic crime novel! You are spared the horrific details, but I still shudder by the thought of what people are willing to do to each other…
I would like to thank the Danish publishing house Alhambra for sending me a copy of The Few in exchange for this review.