Wednesday, August 08, 2007


I was in our excellent local Waterstones the other day, while my little car was being serviced at outrageous cost. Apparently the hourly rate for a motor mechanic is greater than that of either a Mafia hitman or a brain surgeon.

A middle aged couple were puzzling over which of the Henning Mankells they had not read, and what order to read the books. The problem of course is that publishers do not arrange to translate books in the correct order.

I realised that I had read the 5th in Massimo Carlotto's Alligator series, The Master of Knots, but not the 4th The Colombian Mule. The first three have yet to be translated by Carlotto's translator Christopher Woodall.

The Colombian Mule was one of the books I picked up for a £1, in Hay-on-Wye, and forty three pages in I am engrossed.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created the perfect consulting detective for the late Victorian and Edwardian period, but I think Massimo Carlotto has probably created in Marco Buratti a detective more suited for our complicated age.

Marco alias Alligator, Old Rossini and Max the Memory are definitely not Holmes and Watson but they operate in a very different environment, where it is difficult to distinguish the guilty from the innocent; and the innocent are probably guilty of something.

Previous discussions of Massimo Carlotto at:


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