Today it is my stop on The American blog tour. I have been lucky enough to secure an extract for you to read. I hope you enjoy it and don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour.
The second Leone Scamarcio thriller.
As autumn sets in, the queues outside the soup kitchens of Rome are lengthening, and the people are taking to the piazzas, increasingly frustrated by the deepening economic crisis.
Detective Leone Scamarcio is called to an apparent suicide on the Ponte Sant'Angelo, a stone’s throw from Vatican City. A man is hanging from the bridge, his expensive suit suggesting yet another businessman fallen on hard times. But Scamarcio is immediately troubled by similarities with the 1982 murder of Roberto Calvi, dubbed ‘God’s Banker’ because of his work for the Vatican Bank.
Scamarcio’s instincts are soon proved correct when a cardinal with links to the bank is killed. And when US Intelligence warn Scamarcio to drop his investigation, he knows that the stakes are far higher than he first realised.
Ignoring their threats, Scamarcio pushes on, but his progress is being monitored by some of the world’s most powerful men, who will stop at nothing to make sure their dirty work stays under cover. In breathtaking developments that link 9/11, America’s dirty wars, Vatican corruption, the Mafia, and Italy’s violence against its own people, Scamarcio has to deal with responsibilities far above his pay grade.
Extract 1 from The American by Nadia Dalbuono
A man with light, greying hair was hanging from the lower railing, a fat noose of rope tied around his neck. He wore an expensive-looking grey suit and a white shirt, the top four buttons wide open. A blue silk tie was pushed off to one side, the front panel snaking across his shoulder. His feet were spinning above the water in grey silk socks. There was no sign of any shoes. The stranger’s eyes had rolled back in his head, as was customary with the victims of hanging, but it was his thick hair standing up in strange tufts that was disquieting, that gave the sense that this was a man who would normally be combed down and salesman prepped, who would never allow himself to be seen in public like this. What an invasion of privacy death is, thought Scamarcio, not for the first time.
Manetti called over to the police photographer, standing a few metres away: ‘You done here?’
The guy nodded. ‘Yeah, he’s all yours.’
Manetti motioned to two of his assistants. The more muscular of the two stepped onto the thin platform above the water and began slowly hoisting the body onto the ledge. It took a considerable effort, despite the CSI’s strength. Once he’d cut the rope free from the ironwork, Manetti and the other assistant leant over the balustrade, and the three men carefully manoeuvred the body up over the railing. When they’d got it clear, they laid the corpse out on the pavement.
Manetti began patting down the arms and legs. He stopped at the trouser pockets, and felt them again on both sides before reaching into a pocket with his gloved right hand and pulling out a fistful of something bulky. When Manetti opened his hand, Scamarcio saw that he was holding cracked and broken chunks of brick — masonry rubble.
‘What do you make of that?’ asked the chief CSI, who had sensed his colleague’s silent approach but had been too absorbed in his work to acknowledge it.
‘Reminds me of something.’
‘In the sixteenth century, this bridge was used to expose the bodies of the executed.’
‘No, that’s not it.’
With his left hand, Manetti pulled a plastic evidence-bag from his pocket and poured in the rubble from his right. He then extracted the debris from the man’s other pocket and repeated the process.
‘Probably another poor sod who couldn’t make it to the end of the month. There seems to be a suicide a day at the moment. You hear about that guy who set fire to himself in front of the tax office?’
Scamarcio ignored the question — he was sick of the constant talk of ‘the crisis’. Just because some parasite bankers had placed a bad bet on Italy, why should they all be castrating themselves to settle their casino tab? The German chancellor and her cronies ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼had the country in a stranglehold, and people were starting to pay with their lives. At a dinner party the other day, someone had said that it was the new nazism for the twenty-first century. He had smiled at the time, but had gone home and quietly wondered about that.
‘You find any ID?’ he asked.
‘Nothing as yet. We’re getting the frogmen out, but there’s quite a current after the storm.’
‘He doesn’t look Italian to me.’
‘Hmm, now you say it ...’ Manetti gently patted the corpse again before lifting the collar of the man’s suit. ‘Saks, 5th Avenue.’
‘Yeah, that’s what I thought.’
‘Enlighten me then — what does it remind you of ?’
Scamarcio took a cigarette from his pocket and lit up, breathing out into the cool air and then sucking it back in. After a few seconds, he said: ‘God’s Banker.’
Manetti inclined his head slowly to one side, thinking it over. ‘God’s Banker,’ he repeated, trying it for size.
They both looked out across the river to their right, where the dome of St Peter’s Basilica rose up, resplendent in the early-morning sunlight.
‘Yeah, now you say it ...’ said the chief CSI eventually. ‘And I thought it would be a home-by-six day.’