Wednesday, February 20, 2008


I am working my way through the short stories in Crimini, The Bitter Lemon Book of Italian Crime Fiction.

The themes of Crimini as defined in the preface by editor Giancarlo De Cataldo are:
1] Corruption

2] The foreigner

3] The obsession with success, fame and celebrity
The fourth story in the collection Death of an Informer by Massimo Carlotto, a master of dark Italian noir, is right on theme with a tale of violence and foreign gangs.

Carlotto does not embellish his message and he describes a very violent world in a swift almost staccato like style that frequently leaves little time for meditation.
Amelia's body was loaded into a police mortuary van. Campagna had to bite his knuckles so as not to start bawling again.

A car took him back to Padua. Throughout the journey he sat in silence, thinking.

Murder, violence, sex, action, described in relatively short sentences, these are the staples of Carlotto's style.

When he does spend time with long descriptions they are suitably politically incorrect, and add to the steamy atmosphere of decadence.

About twenty five, tall, black hair cut in a bob, long legs, a nice behind, and a shapely bosom, she walked with the elegance of a model.

The foreigner dominates this story from the Bolivian drug dealers, to Croatian mafia, through to Chinese gangsters, as Campagna's informers and colleagues are killed along the way. The message is clear, in that far from invigorating an old jaded society the foreigner is destroying Italy.

Too many foreigners. And too many lowlifes among them.

What's Missing by Marcello Fois is the tale of the murder of a politician's grandmother.

The endemic corruption of the Italian state and legal system are the main theme here in a purely Italian mess. The villains are the corrupt politicians, mayoral candidate, Deputy Prosecutor, and Prosecutor General who attempt to influence an investigation hoping to pin the blame upon a convenient suspect.

Precossi intervened before Curreli could reply. "We're holding a man, so let's try and bring things to a rapid conclusion."

"A rapid conclusion?" asked Curelli.

"A rapid conclusion," replied De Pisis.

Is there something , I'm not quite getting?" asked Curreli provocatively.

The five Crimini I have read so far have all been very good reads, slightly different in style and at thirty to forty pages just the right length to develop a story.

They are certainly a good introduction to reading the longer work of these authors.

The use of something as coarse and democratic as an Anglo-Saxon jury would be unthinkable....... the law will remain always a thing of bamboozlers, of cryptic language, which is of liars, a power used only to take in and deprive the weak.

Ernesto Galli della Loggia, L'identita italiana quoted in The Dark Heart of Italy by Tobias Jones.


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