“The heartless ones” by Giuseppe Conte

Twelfth Century. Captain Guglielmo Capo di Martello is on board the galley Grifona along with his crew, heading for the seas of the North. He wants to discover if the precious object he has in his hands – a hexagonal emerald basin that according to legends contained the blood of Christ – is authentic. The ship sets sail from the port of Genoa, but shortly after the start of the voyage, Guglielmo is forced to put aside his mission and concentrate on a much more pressing emergency: terror has spread on the ship after the heinous killing of the young official Astor della Volta, found with his chest torn open and his heart missing. With the help of the faithful scribe Oberto da Noli, the captain is determined to find out as quickly as possible who is guilty and restore the safety of the crew members. Nevertheless, the ship seems to be cursed and the killer continues to strike his mortal blows.

The narration of the scribe alternates with the voice of a young woman who tells the story in the first person: she is Giannetta Centurione, who comes from a noble Genovese family. She is promised in marriage to Corradino Fieschi, the son of a powerful family. But the girl does not want to submit herself to this fate, even more so because she is secretly in love with a handsome young man who seemsto reciprocate her affection. She therefore goes in search of her lover, with the intention of running away with him, but from there the situation deteriorates. And in the most dramatic and unexpected way…

Born in Imperia in 1945, Giuseppe Conte, a writer, poet and essayist, has been poetry editor for Guanda and has written for various national newspapers and magazines. Among his novels are Il terzo ufficiale (translated in France and winner of the Premio Hemingway), La casa delle onde (finalist for the 2005 Premio Strega and translated in France), L’adultera (translated in France and winner of the 2009 Premio Manzoni for the year’s best historical novel), Il male veniva dal mare (2013), and Sex and Apocalypse (2017, Giunti). Conte is also a translator of Blake, Shelley, Whitman and D.H. Lawrence.


Translation rights sold to Estonia and Arabic countries. 

Download here partial English translation of The heartless.

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