Thursday, April 14, 2011

REVIEW: Death's Dark Abyss, by Massimo Carlotto

Death's Dark Abyss, by Massimo Carlotto. Published 2006 by Europa Editions. Fiction. Crime Fiction. Translated from the Italian.

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.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book from Europa Editions.