Monday, July 9, 2012

REVIEW: Bandit Love, by Massimo Carlotto

Bandit Love, by Massimo Carlotto. Published 2010 by Europa Editions. Fiction. Crime Fiction. Translation.

The thing I really enjoy about Massimo Carlotto's novels, or at least about the four that I've read, is that they're all really different from each other in style and tone, but they all retain the distinctive Carlotto attitude and cynicism. Case in point: Bandit Love, which I understand is the fifth in his "Alligator" series about ex-con/private investigator Marco Buratti, is refreshing and different from the other books of his I've read, but you can still tell it's a Carlotto, full of both the verve and the bitterness I've come to expect, and every bit as much trashy fun as his other books.

The story concerns the kidnapping of the girlfriend of one of the Alligator's buddies; Sylvie is a beautiful dancer who is snatched off the street in retaliation for- what exactly? Finding out what's behind Sylvie's kidnapping and finding her takes up about the half of the book. Once Buratti and company have penetrated the Serbian/Kosovar narco-ring that took Sylvie, they have to clean up the aftermath, and that's when the real fun begins.

Typical of Carlotto's books, we have corruption, drugs, sex, violence and money. Atypically, we have a hero/good guy who's actually a good guy, albeit one willing to use deadly force. In the other Carlottos I've read, either the hero is a messed up antihero as bad as his opponents (Death's Dark Abyss) or a gleeful psychopath you love to hate (The Goodbye Kiss) or just kind of a no-account you don't care about one way or the other (Poisonville). I liked Buratti's blasé attitude, wisecracking and loyalty, and I liked his buddies too. Basically all they want is to do the right thing, protect themselves and those they care about. Also typically we have women taking the brunt of the abuse but we also have a femme fatale who manages to elude capture and justice, and whose fate appears to be the subject of the subsequent book, which I believe is not translated yet.

I had fun reading Bandit Love. It's not my favorite Carlotto (that would be The Goodbye Kiss) but it was a fun, entertaining and page-turning noir from one of my favorite practitioners of the genre.  If you read crime fiction, you really, really need to add him to your pile. And Europa Editions, if you're reading, please bring me more Massimo, pronto. I only have one left and I'm going to need more soon.

This is the 10th book I've read for the 2012 Europa Challenge.


FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.


Unknown said...

The opening sentences of this post caught my eye. Your description of this author's books as different in style and tone but with a distinctive Carlotto attitude and cynicism is enough for me to want to read several of this author's books. I love good crime fiction and the fact that Europa publishes these books. I won't be able to get to them for a couple of months but they're on my tbr list now!

bermudaonion said...

Alligator sounds like an interesting character.

Zibilee said...

I haven't read much in this vein, but this book, and the others you mentioned sound like things that I might really love. I particularly like that this author doesn't always create endearing characters. That is a change from most fiction, and it gets me to thinking about some of those characters who I love to hate. Great review today, Marie!

Kathleen said...

I don't usually read crime fiction like this but I'd love to give it a try.