The Hit

When Leone Scamarcio is called to investigate an apparent hit-and-run, it seems like a job for a traffic officer, not one of Rome’s top detectives.

But when the victims are kidnapped on their way to the hospital, and Scamarcio discovers that they are the family of one of the country’s top television executives, the infamous Micky Proietti, things start to get interesting. Everyone, it seems ― from Premier League footballers to jilted starlets and even the Calabrian Mafia ― has an axe to grind with Proietti.

As Scamarcio delves into the underbelly of Italian show business, he discovers a possible connection between this investigation and his own Mafia father’s right-hand man. To solve the case he must travel home to Calabria, but can he finally banish the ghosts of the past?

About the author

Originally from the UK but now a resident in Italy, Nadia Dalbuono has spent the last fifteen years working as a documentary director and consultant for Channel 4, ITV, Discovery, and National Geographic in various countries. The Hit is the sequel to The Few  and The American in the Leone Scamarcio series.

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Why We Like It

  • 'Brilliantly conceived … A captivating yarn in every sense.’ Jon Wise 
  • ‘A fresh voice in a well-trodden field … This is Euro-noir of the highest order.’ New Books
  • ‘[A] fast-moving and complicated story.' Crime Review

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About the author

‘The inspiration for The Few came largely from a period spent working in Rome. I’d been employed as a consultant for an international broadcaster who had set up an Italian operation. Their documentaries boss wanted shows with strong narratives that were shot and edited in the style of UK formats. His concern was that while many Italian TV directors were great at capturing breathtakingly beautiful images, the 'story' itself was often an afterthought.

Inevitably, I was not always given the warmest welcome in the cutting rooms of Rome and Milan. For the budding Fellinis I was a nuisance to be tolerated to keep the channel sweet. 'Why do we have to do things like the English?’ lamented one. 'Your programmes always look so drab and grey? Like the people.'

As I waged war on my nervous boss's behalf, several things became apparent: there was very little meritocracy here; too many talentless individuals occupied the plum jobs while too many gifted people were kept down. The management often seemed scared of talent; there was no nurturing culture, no attempt to build team morale. It was divide and rule all the way, often with abysmal results. Certain people could not be offended; a colleague was once brought to book after he dared tell the daughter of a prominent Italian that her programme ideas would never sell. 'Remember Nadia,' a Rome producer explained. 'All those people in top positions are there because someone put them there, they're connected. Talent counts for little.'

And the more time I spent in this damaged little world, the more I began to wonder how it affected Italians in other walks of life. How do you operate in a system that is so compromised? The rip off culture is huge, conning the most cash you can out of people is common. So how do you rise above this and do you even bother? How do you maintain a sense of personal morality when you're surrounded by so much immorality? How do you find justice in a society where kick backs are the norm and the courts take so long to bring a case to trial that decades can elapse before a sentence is passed? How do you live in a place that you both love and hate in equal measure; where the only way to survive is by breaking the rules?

It was from these questions that Detective Leone Scamarcio was born. Scamarcio is angry and Italians are angrier than most. They're angry with their political class, angry at the lack of jobs and opportunities, angry at their dire salaries, angry at the widespread corruption that’s reported night after night on TV. They're angry on studio discussion shows, debates often turning physical with guests throwing punches or storming off. And they're angry on the roads, screaming hysterically when you fail to hit the gas the moment the lights turn green.

To us Brits, Italy has always been the bel paese, the ‘beautiful country’. But in the Italy of 2014 the rolling hills of Tuscany or the canals of Venice are really just Disneyland bubbles. The urban reality is often brutal, grim and relentlessly depressing. Milan and Naples have some of the most unforgiving social housing in Europe, the smog is suffocating and finding a patch of greenery is near on impossible. More and more Italians struggle to make it to the end of the month and now dream of emigrating to Australia or the US. Young people are fleeing for London in their thousands.

This is the Italy I wanted to write about, the Italy of 2014, where the mafia is an octopus with its tentacles reaching ever deeper into the lives of normal people, where the government rarely works for its electorate and where far too many still remain 'untouchable'. It’s a deeply flawed but fascinating country, a place scored through with complexity and ambiguity, a place full of extraordinary people forced to work in a state of emergency, a place that tests you at every turn. This is the Italy in which Scamarcio must fight to survive.’

— NADIA DALBUONO

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