by Antonio Lanzetta
Damiano Valente is The Jackal, a writer whose greatest talent is to turn heinous
crimes into very successful novels. Nevertheless, when the corpse of a girl is found
hanging from the branches of an old willow, Damiano simply cannot turn that homicide
into a great novel. That is because 31 years earlier, in 1985, when Damiano was just a kid,
his close friend Claudia had been murdered in the same way. Many things have changed
for The Jackal during this long time: a tragic accident has made him a cripple addicted to
morphine, and his passion for running got broken along with his bones. Yet, he is still
wearing himself out over Claudia’s murder and finding that dead girl 31 years later
reopens an old, unhealed wound. Forced to relive that 1985, Damiano calls by his side his
childhood friends Flavio and Stefano.
There are three things that strike the most in this novel. First of all, its being set in a
1985 southern Italy caught in the grips of minor and major gangsters. We get to know this
south mainly through the eyes of Flavio, the orphan child from Turin taken in custody by
his grandfather, Don Mimì, pure, yet violent soul of the small village of Castellaccio.
Then there is the choice of developing the story along two parallel threads,
unravelling 31 years away from each other. We live the present through Damiano’s broken
life, as he is carrying out close investigations in order to finally tighten the noose around
the neck of a murderer who has been on the loose for over thirty years. The past is told
from Flavio’s transparent but furious point of view and from Don Mimì’s lessons to his
grandson, which try to teach him how to live with his interior darkness. It is hypnotical
how past and present alternate in a carousel whose rules are completely ruthless: what the
characters had lived in the past repeats itself in the future, just as if there was an already
set fate it is impossible to run away from.
Lastly, the sincerity and truth that Lanzetta put into his novel are two pillars that
merge perfectly between past and present. Castellaccio is a violent province, here
described without any filter. The four kids, Flavio, Damiano, Stefano and Claudia manage
to harness with their friendship all the evil exuded by that underworld and turn it into
something pure.
All this until Claudia’s death and Damiano’s accident. From those moments on, it is
like the natural growth of the children (recalling ‘Stand By Me’ or ‘IT’) which was
supposed to lead them into adulthood, suffers a serious setback, in a play of contrasts and
chiaroscuro illusions. Death, darkness, pain, wounds. The three surviving kids stand still,
frozen, prevented from growing up and growing wiser. Darkness has been growing
within them for 31 years, waiting for a dramatic catharsis allowing them to move on, at
last. Will this ever happen? Lanzetta tells this story drawing on pure emotions, outlining
his own land with the typical furious love of those who know it well, not censoring
anything and without recurring to trite stereotypes.

THE AUTHOR – Antonio Lanzetta was born in Salerno and with WARRIOR and
REVOLUTION, always published by La Corte Editore, he garnered both the public and
the critics’ praise, proving to be an author capable of grabbing his readers’ attention from
the first to the very last page thanks to his exciting way of writing. In 2015 his thriller short
story NELLA PIOGGIA (‘In The Rain’) ended up finalist at the Gran Giallo award in
Cattolica and was the most downloaded e-book. With this novel he is shifting genre, yet
still confirms himself one of the most promising Italian writers of his generation.