Original title: Rosa elettrica
Florence. Rosa’s first real job in Antimafia, the police unit that deals with organized crime, is a tough one. The day after a clash between two rival Camorra clans that led to the deaths of over twenty people, including two innocent children, she is assigned custody of Daniele Mastronero, known as Cochise (after the Apache chief).Mastronero is a grass, a career criminal at just eighteen. Until a few days before, he was the head of a drugs gang; a violent, paranoid and antisocial kid, who has already done a stint in juvenile detention for kidnapping and disfiguring a young girl. Police reports describe him as “a car driving at 300mph with no one at the wheel. A car that runs on coke, not petrol”.
Switching, rather reluctantly, to the side of the law, his testimony enabled the arrest of sixty people and the seizure of kilos upon kilos of heroin. The vendetta against him will be brutal. Once the gangs find his hiding place, Cochise’s fate will be sealed. So why assign his protection to an agent like Rosa: an insecure, inexperienced girl, who fell into Antimafia after a failed philosophy degree and a few months’ apprenticeship in the traffic police? Something doesn’t add up. Even more so since Cochise is completely incapable of keeping a low profile and is at constant risk of compromising himself.
He needs to be transferred as soon as possible. But when the time comes to hand him over to the agents in charge, Rosa gets suspicious. Those are not real police officers. Instinctively, the girl takes it upon herself to save Cochise, and so begins a whirlwind road trip, through the green Tuscan hills and between the run-down tower blocks of Naples, through the red light district of Hamburg and the foggy dirt roads of the Scottish countryside. Like a pair of animals on the run, Rosa and Cochise find themselves alone, hunted by Camorra and the authorities. Forced to stay side by side, because they can’t trust anyone else, they seem to find themselves in a parallel universe, where everything and everyone has a price, but nothing and no one has value.
Cochise is despicable, arrogant and unpredictable, but Rosa can’t simply abandon him to his fate. The protagonist of this noir fiction is a uniquely deep and complex character on the international thriller scene, and her personal growth grabs the reader just as much as the fate of her young companion, as the two become inextricably linked. They develop an adversarial yet symbiotic relationship, constantly swapping roles as guard and guarded, protector and protected. This filmic novel has surprising twists and turns, punctuated by cutting dialogue.
Giampaolo Simi keeps the reader holding his breath until the final page, hooked on the uncertain fate of two polar opposite characters who form an unexpected team in the face of adversity.
- Full French translation available