BLESSED ARE THE DEAD BY KRISTI BELCAMINO

2014

HarperCollins/Witness Impulse

 

“My landmarks are morbid.”

This is my favorite line from Kristi Belcamino’s debut novel, BLESSED ARE THE DEAD. As Gabriella Giovanni drives around her San Francisco neighborhood, she associates all of her landmarks to the horrors that she reports on. A murder here. A car crash there. It goes on and on. But as Belcamino writes her, Giovanni isn’t haunted by her job as a reporter for the Bay Harold; she breathes it like air. Being a reporter is a calling that has cost her relationship after relationship, yet she gets up each morning knowing that she has a job to do, and loves doing it. Gabriella Giovanni makes her living digging for the truth. It’s her job to find evil and report it to the world. Her readers will know about the crime that happens in their city, and hopefully, justice will be done.

Because years ago, crime hit her family and justice wasn’t done.

Giovanni’s sister Caterina was kidnapped when both of the girls were small. While her body was eventually discovered, the kidnapper never was. The death of her sister lead to the passing of her father. Both of which almost tore her tight-nit Catholic family apart. But really, it’s her faith and family that keep Giovanni going.

It’s this strong sense of character that is the most appealing piece of Belcamino’s novel. We know this woman. The story is loaded with character beats that you instantly relate to, but don’t feel like you’re knocked over the head with. You know this woman: you’ve hung out with her at family gatherings, you’ve talked about loving Simple Minds and U2. And if you feel like you know the hero, if you can relate to her, then you find yourself caring about WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT is this: A little girl is discovered missing from a rundown part of town. And because the wound never really got to heal properly, this missing little girl story becomes a missing little girl obsession for Giovanni. And like an evil spider sitting at the center of nasty, rotten web sits a nasty, rotten evil bastard of a villain that may be responsible for the loss of her sister.

It all comes to a head in BLESSED ARE THE DEAD.

 

Dan Malmon