Bandit Love, by Massimo Carlotto. Published 2010 by Europa Editions.
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.