Giovanni Rex’s noir-ish novels cut a broad swath across the contemporary genre. This is part due to the complexity of time shifts, narrative voices, and bizarre characterizations. Part thriller, part literary musing, the author’s tone is a times a moral cry for a better society, with more compassion, less violence, but at others the pages are awash with blood and sex. Whom ever the author is, and there are plenty of hints within his novels to assume there is another hand behind the declared writer, an excellent puppet master is pulling the literary strings. He/she has taken the noir convention and cut it to pieces.
Seventy year-old Giovanni Rex was an accomplished art thief, con man and the surviving member of an illusive criminal family with connections to high places, the last ten years of his life were spent in jail for a variety of unspecified crimes that probably didn’t but should have included murder. In that ten years behind bars he began writing a series of books he erroneously called ‘my confessions.’ If we believe him his protagonist Detective Giovanni ‘Rex’ Matsuko is not only a work of fiction but is based on the Milan based police officer who was responsible for putting him in the prison in the first place. Part detective novel, part memoir, full of improbable musings on sex, love, family, death and murder, real events are scrambled into fictional service and made his own. Giovanni Rex has created a world in which writer and protagonist keep colliding, where literary figures from Hemingway to Murakami, Max Faber to Thomas Mann, Donna Leon to Nick Cave keep popping up, and that’s not to mention missing fingers, interrogations, Marilyn Monroe’s autopsy, and a woman who looks like a Japanese Audrey Hepburn. And all of this set in Venice, Capri, Rome, Amsterdam, and New York. If Giovanni Rex is in a prison of his own making then he is the inventor of a series of confessions so convoluted, so full of contradictions, that even the best legal minds will be confused, but if he is trying to write his way into favour with publishers, parole boards and any foundations gullible enough to give him money to finish his books he is probably mistaken.