I am fairly sure by Crimescraps out of Eurocrime, or vice versa, I recently came across a book so highly recommended that I could do nothing but read it. Involuntary Witness is by an Italian author, Gianrico Carofiglio, who according to the blurb is "an anti-mafia judge in the southern Italian city of Bari". First published in 2002, the book has been translated into English by Patrick Creagh, and was published in the UK in 2005.
Guido Guerrieri's marriage is on the rocks and he's a corrupt lawyer, representing people whom he despises for the money. From the Sartre-like pit of existential despair when it all goes wrong, Guerrieri's life begins to turn around when he is finessed into taking on the defence of a Sengalese man, a beach-peddler accused of murdering a small boy. The "Mockingbird" court case plays out in parallel with Guerrieri's spiritual rehabilitation and redemption.
I loved this fast-paced and compelling story. Not only for all the above reasons, but because of its sense of place. I've written before about placeism, and in that context of how John Grisham, although usually weak on plot, excels at conveying it. Carofiglio's Bari is in the same mould — the details of life in this small Italian town illuminate the eternal dramatic themes. And it is good on plot, too.
This is a perfect miniature of a book –much shorter than Grisham, and all the better for it.