Roberto Marais is haunted by his past as an under-cover carabinieri. A time of cynicism and corruption, in the world he investigated, and in his own soul. A meeting with Emma—like Roberto ravaged by guilt—begins to revive him. When her teenage son asks Roberto to help him conquer his nightmares, Roberto at last achieves a true rebirth.
A desperate search for human connection is at the heart of this moving novel from Carofiglio (The Past Is a Foreign Country). Roberto Marias, who infiltrated major drug cartels during his time as an undercover Italian cop, is on leave after coming close to blowing his own head off. His calendar has only two fixed points, his twice-a-week therapy appointments. Roberto, who drifts through life in a haze with minimal interactions with others, sometimes finds that "remembering and thinking are not beneficial activities" for him. A chance encounter with Emma, an attractive woman he recognizes from a TV condom commercial, may offer a chance of relief from his malaise. Some chapters related from the perspective of someone named Giacomo, who's entranced by a classmate named Ginevra, add suspense, as the relationship of this subplot to the main one doesn't become clear until the end. The author subtly and simply conveys the backstory to Roberto's suicidal ideation.