Unlike the main character of Gianrico Carofiglio’s Guido Guerrieri series, I’m not a lawyer, but as a crime junkie, I find myself asking questions: what does it feel like to be a defense lawyer? Yes I know that everyone is supposed to deserve a decent defense but ….Do you always believe that your client is innocent? If not, how do you cope, morally, with the knowledge that your client is guilty? Are you picky about the cases you take–for example, do you reject accused pedophiles or heinous murder cases? Can you afford to be that selective or do you decide on a case-by-case basis? All these questions are answered in A Fine Line, which can be read as a standalone, the most philosophical Guido Guerrieri novel in the series.
A Fine Line finds Avvocato Guido Guerrieri defending a rape case, the sort of thing he normally avoids, but in this instance, it’s a clear case of sloppy investigation. Soon after the case wraps up, he’s approached by Judge Pierluigi Larocca for representation. Larocca has just learned that there’s a bribery case brewing against him with a “Mafioso who’s turned state’s evidence” as the star witness. Guido has “never heard the slightest gossip” about Larocca who has a reputation for being incorruptible. For Larocca, who hopes to gain a promotion in the next few months, the case could not have come at a worse time. He hires Guido and Guido goes to work digging into the case against Larocca.
Guido hires Annapaola Doria, a bisexual private detective to ferret out information about the case, and since the prosecution is keeping everything hush hush, some of the PI’s methods aren’t orthodox or legal.
Although a few scenes take place in the courtroom, this is not a courtroom thriller. As the most meditative Guido Guerrieri novel to date, A Fine Line examines the Italian legal system, facing middle age, and how to maintain integrity in one’s profession. If you are hoping for the usual crime novel or even something hard-boiled, you are likely to be disappointed. Instead we follow Guido as he goes through his daily life and this includes the conversations he has with his punching bag, arguments he debates with himself, making observations about people in a café, and even a chance meeting in a bookshop. So in other words, the book mirrors life with all its trivia; it’s not 24/7 crime busting.
I enjoyed A Fine Line more than the other novels in the series that I’ve read. There are five books so far, and I’ve read three, and I liked this one for its philosophical meditations which addressed many of the questions I had about being a defense lawyer. It’s through the Larocca case, that Guido comes to terms with his life, reaching mature decisions while recognizing his own weaknesses and foibles.
I had an image of myself and tried to live up to it. One way or another. Whenever there was a clash with reality, it was reality that had to adapt. But that’s a mechanism that can’t work forever. Gradually you lose your sense of balance
translated by Howard Curtis