Thursday, April 14, 2011

REVIEW: Death's Dark Abyss, by Massimo Carlotto

Death's Dark Abyss, by Massimo Carlotto. Published 2006 by Europa Editions. Paperback.

Death's Dark Abyss is sort of what the title suggests- a dark and gritty and violent tale of grief and revenge. Silvano Contin is a grieving widower whose wife and child were killed in a bungled robbery; previously a successful career man, he now ekes out a solitary, dreary living repairing shoes.

Fifteen years after the tragedy, he's miserable, bitter shell of himself; then one day he gets a letter from the lawyer of the man in prison for the crime, asking for Silvano's help in getting his client a humanitarian pardon. Raffaello Beggato, imprisoned for life, has cancer and asks to spend his last days at home with his mother. Silvano is plunged again into a new inferno of rage and decides to take his revenge against the man who destroyed his family.

It should be sort of obvious that this is not a feel-good story; it's the story of damaged, desperate and desperately unhappy people pitted against each other in a battle for the survival of their souls. It reads incredibly quickly; a slim volume of only 150-odd pages, I read it in two days and could barely stand to put it down the suspense gripped me so. Carlotto kept me firmly in a vise with his white-hot plot and irresistibly compelling characters.

Having said that though, I don't think I could ever read another one of his books! Although the journey was unforgettable, the violence present in the book, the edgy and somewhat misogynistic sexual content and the sheer misery of the characters made this my first and probably only foray into his world. Which is all not to say that Death's Dark Abyss won't have an audience. Fans of dark noir and crime fiction will love this; it will pull the right reader in like gravity. For me, although I do enjoy crime fiction, it was just a little too much.

Rating: If you like crime fiction, BUY.

Death's Dark Abyss
by Massimo Carlotto
I'm a Powell's partner and receive a small commission on sales.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book from Europa Editions.


Sandy Nawrot said...

Well, I DO love crime fiction. I would consider that genre part of my roots...something I read almost exclusively before I started blogging. But crime fiction isn't real, and it rarely pulls me down. It is expected that there are body parts and an evil-doer that is obsessed with his mother and is a religious fanatic and talks to a spirit. Or whatever. This feels different, darker. Even that cover is haunting...

Zibilee said...

It does sound as if this was a rather visceral and vivid read, and although I am not a big crime fiction reader, I am weirdly interested by this book. Perhaps it is your reaction to it that draws me in. I am not sure, but I think I will add it to my list. Thanks for the thoughtful review, Marie.

bermudaonion said...

Wow, I'll have to think about this one. I do like crime fiction, but most of it has a note of unbelievability in it somewhere that makes it tolerable. This one sounds like it reads like a true story.

R. J. said...

Good review, but I will have to pass on this one. I can't handle "dark".

Vasilly said...

Wow! I may have to add this to my tbr list! I love how the cover is so sunny and happy.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

This might be a bit too too gritty for me, but I enjoyed reading your perspective.