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GUEST BLOG: Murder at the World Cup

2nd June 2014 - Roberto Costantini


The Deliverance of Evil is the thrilling crime debut from Italian writer Roberto Costantini. Detective Michele Balistreri was never able to solve the mysterious death of young woman at the 1982 World Cup in Spain, won in merorable style by Italy. It is not until the 2006 in Germany, where Italy are crowned world champions again, that Balistreri finds himsefl reopning the case, as he investigates a series of gruesome murders by a killer with a message.

Below, Robert explains why he choose the background of one of the world's most high-profile sporting events for his gripping first novel.



The Deliverance of EvilWhy use football in a thriller? Why not only one World Cup final but two? Was it really necessary? I've been asked these questions many times in interviews. But always by people who have not yet read The Deliverance of Evil.

I used the World Cup final for a very good reason: the starting point of The Deliverance of Evil is a murder that takes place on a night when even police forces where a bit distracted. Well, remember the night England won the World Cup in 1966 or, if you are too young, ask someone who was there. I was in London on holiday and, no offence, I believe even Scotland Yard were throwing a party.

Now imagine the same thing in Rome, with very excitable Italians, the night Italy beat Germany and won the 1982 World Cup. Even worse than London in 1966. Detective Michele Balistreri, called during the match about the presumed disappearance of 18-year-old Elisa Sordi, takes no interest in the case. That night his mind is set on the azzurri, even more after their victory when Elisa is not found and Rome explodes with joy, chants, fires, cars and motorini. Mike wants to party with his friends and the girls, and he dismisses the worries of Giovanna, Elisa's mother. Only a few days later, when Elisa's body is found in the Tiber, he realizes how awfully selfish and dumb he had been. But now it's too late, the key clues are gone, the murder remains unsolved and Elisa's mother Giovanna can only cry on her grave.

Twenty-four years later , in 2006 , Mike is now in his mid-fifties , a much wiser but bored man , a high level official in the Italian Police who is only waiting for retirement and has totally forgotten Elisa. He is quietly investigating a series of murders of young women. A series, because the killer is sending a message by carving a different letter on each victim, composing a sentence of death. And here comes the World Cup again: Italy beat France in the final and become world champion and Italy goes crazy again. But for Mike it's a very bad day. That outburst of unsustainable joy brings back the memory of Elisa. And just to make sure he will now remember, Elisa's mother, Giovanna, jumps off the third floor at the very same moment that Italy scores the decisive goal.


This is why we have two World Cup finals in The Deliverance of Evil. And we have one more reason. All of you remember the day England became soccer world champions or rugby world champions. You remember where you were, who you were with, what you were doing in that period, who the Prime Minister was, who you were. You really do not need the author to tell you about the circumstances, you as a reader are totally at home. Which is where you are mostly like to be when you read a book.


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