Early in the afternoon of 16 October 2017, Daphne Caruana Galizia got into her car to drive to town for a meeting at her bank in Valletta. ‘There are crooks everywhere,’ she had just written in her blog. ‘The situation is desperate.’ Seconds later there was an explosion. A passing farmer heard her scream before the car turned into a ball of fire. Caruana Galizia was then fifty-three, the mother of three grown-up sons and Malta’s most tenacious and accusatory investigative journalist, a thorn in the side of a profoundly corrupt government.
Paul, her youngest son, was working in London as a journalist and flew home to join his lawyer father, his brothers and their wider grieving family. By 2017, Caruana Galizia had become a national figure, revered by some, loathed and feared by others, her house barricaded as a result of death threats, her blog on Malta’s ills – money laundering, corruption, drug smuggling and rampant pollution – attracting more readers than the daily newspapers.
To come to terms with the tragedy and the horror that had visited his family, Paul sat down to write a book on his mother’s life. She was a thin, dark-haired woman, with an angular face, much attached to her sons, about whom she wrote that when young they were