Monday, April 18, 2011


Marco Buratti aka The Alligator is back in Massimo Carlotto's latest Italian noir novel Bandit Love, translated from the Italian by Anthony Shugar.

When Sylvie, the girlfriend of Marco's closest friend Beniamino Rossini is kidnapped, Marco, "Old Rossini", and Max la Memoria, must tussle with some of the new style mafias that have come to dominate Northeast Italy.

This is a short classic example of Carlotto's writing that leaves you slightly breathless and wanting more. The ending is abrupt and somewhat enigmatic, but the 177 pages are packed full of action, corruption, wisecracks, murders, unpleasant characters, politics, ideas and beautiful women.

" Is she another Lacan-quoting shrink like the last three?"
" No, I seem to have run out of those," he answered, resentfully. "She's a substitute teacher, a militant member of the worker's collective, divorced, no kids."
" Not only is she cute," he exulted. "She smokes, she drinks, she's not taking a creative writing course and she doesn't have a gym membership."

The first person narrative by Marco tries to direct the reader through a complex harsh brutal tale of revenge and double cross and triple cross. With all the various characters the plot was a bit incoherent as it involved the theft of narcotics from the high-security, armor-plated storeroom in the cellar of the Department of Forensic Toxicology at the University of Padua, and gangsters from every country in the Balkans and further afield.
Just as all the characters are villains of one degree or another, so no country comes out as beyond reproach in the tangled mess Europe is in.

In the meantime, the law -abiding citizens of Northeast Italy continued to entrust their elderly relatives to illegal-immigrant nurses and caregivers; their house were still being cleaned and their meals were being cooked by undocumented house-keepers.

This is a typical Carlotto book angry that the old Robin Hood style criminals, who won't deal in drugs or traffic women, have had to make way for the more vicious new breed from abroad. Angry at the treatment of women, and angry at the politicians and police who let it happen.
If only it were longer......

"We're old school gangsters, relics of the past that's gone forever. They'll eat us alive."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Norman - Thanks for this review. There is, indeed, a whole new style of gangsterism out there, and how interesting to get a look at that "new breed" from the point of view of the "old school" types. No wonder you were looking for more.

4:24 AM  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

This looks interesting. Will check my library to see what they have by this author.

Checked on Guillermo Orsi, as I was looking for the one you reviewed, or anything by him. The library only as titles in Spanish, so I'll have to check my budget and TBR list.

I just finished that gem "Roseanna," by Sjowall and Wahloo. Couldn't stop reading, nothing got done. If only all books were like that one, but then again we readers would never take care of tasks and work if they were.

Only have five left in their series, but maybe I'll start rereading them!

8:39 PM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Margot-Buratti and his friends do think of themselves as Robin Hoods stealing from the government, or banks, or the rich, or other criminals. Never dealing in drugs and never treating women badly. This puts them at the far end of the spectrum compared with the new mafias.

Kathy- when the winter nights close in, at the moment the superb weather means my reading is intermittent, I am going to read all the Sjowall and Wahloos again.

12:55 AM  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

That's the only solution: to reread the Sjowall/Wahloo books.

A friend of mine has done it, and he wants to reread all of the books about Commissario Brunetti's escapades.

2:19 PM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

That would be a lot more difficult Drawing Conclusions is numero venti. But reading all those books about Paola and Signorina Elettra would be pleasant.

2:40 PM  

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