Partner in Crime: by Valentina Giambanco

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Valentina Giambanco picks a partner in crime for her brilliant heroine, Homicide Detective Alice Madison. The latest installment in this gripping Seattle based series is BLOOD AND BONE, which is available to buy now.

Posted on September 9, 2016 in Partner in Crime
Tags: Alice Madison, Blood and Bone, Crime, Detective fiction, Valentina Giambanco

When I first started thinking about a partnership between Alice Madison and another detective, I could almost hear my brain whirring as one intriguing possibility after the other presented itself.

For a while I thought of taking Madison to Venice and into the world of Donna Leon’s Commissario Brunetti: the idea of Alice Madison completely out of her comfort zone and forced to work within the complex dynamics of Italian policing – and in a city that exists beyond beauty and time – was almost too delicious to ignore. Brunetti would have been kind, slightly bewildered by the younger American woman and sympathetic; if Madison was lucky he might even have invited her to his home for dinner. She would have got lost in the intricate fabric of Venice’s alleys and been baffled by an ancient culture that does not invite the scrutiny of strangers. Ultimately she would have found her bearings and, yes, it would have been quite an adventure.

Then again, Alice Madison might have travelled to London and locked horns with a brilliant, ambitious and uncompromising Detective Superintendent Jane Tennison – who would not in all likelihood bring her home to an enchanting dinner but would probably split a curry and a bottle of a wine with her.

Tennison would have grilled Madison about why she hasn’t taken her Sergeant exams yet and they would have argued their way through the case. It would have been another remarkable meeting.

In the end though, there was only one possible partnership and it was with the person who had most inspired the character of Alice Madison in the first place, someone who for the last few years has been missing and presumed dead: F.B.I. Special Agent Clarice Starling, possibly still a hostage under the influence of Dr. Hannibal Lecter.

I like the idea of these two women – both in their early thirties, both orphans with a troubled past – working together: their differences are just as important as their similarities, and their chemistry could ignite the story.

Where Starling focused on her job and only found a dysfunctional family inside the F.B.I., Madison has a private life and a passionate, complex, romantic relationship. Starling idolised her father while Madison has not spoken to hers in twenty years; Starling was sent away to live with relatives while Madison ran away from home when she was twelve. However, in spite of the different course of their lives, they are sisters under the skin because they both hunt down monsters and would fight until their last breath to protect the innocent.

I like to think that Clarice Starling is still alive and that she is slowly coming back to herself after being Lecter’s prisoner for a very long time. I like to think that one day she will be free of Lecter’s control and she might then find herself alone in the Pacific Northwest, telling a tale no one believes and without the resources of the agency who once abandoned her. I like to think that she might find a friend in a local homicide detective who understands all too well about being a hostage and the twists of a madman’s heart.

Sure, I do realise that this would mean that Alice Madison would be hunting down Hannibal Lecter with Clarice Starling – Hannibal Lecter! – but my girl is not without resources and Starling needs someone she can trust to track and trap the ultimate villain as he flees across the wilderness of Washington State.   Wouldn’t that be a hell of a trip?

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