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Bandit Love [Paperback]

Massimo Carlotto , Antony Shugaar
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book by Carlotto, Massimo

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4.0 out of 5 stars A Thriller of Sorts Feb. 15 2011
By Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This being my first Carlotto novel, I was quite unprepared for the fast pace at which it moves. As the big theme or idea rapidly emerges in the plot, the novelist takes his reader through a maze of nighttime,sultry and sleazy barroom scenes where organized Italian crime has found a home in the ancient town of Padua. Buratti, a former con himself and the improbable hero in the story, demonstrates a pragmatic and often devious quality that allows him to survive in a world that is full of very nasty people. Now, as a private detective, he is called on by a friend to rescue his kidnapped girlfriend. What Buratti quickly learns is that to get at the abductors, he must infiltrate the ranks of the Kosovar mafia that controls most of the drug trade in that part of the country. As he gets further drawn into this subculture, he recognizes that morality is a relative matter. Somebody in the crime syndicate has instigated the kidnapping in order to extract a favor from him: the return of some stolen narcotics. Nobody plays straight in this novel. There is no love lost between cut-throats and thieves. This is a world that thrives on doing what it takes to get the ultimate prize: control of the situation at hand. In this kind of barbaric, dog-eat-dog world, it is hard to find any enduring relationships forming or characters maturing beyond the need to keep their wits about them. While Carlotta certainly presents a grim picture of life as seen through the actions of personalities in deadly conflict, the reader does not get to see anything redeeming surfacing from this human sewer. It is strictly a matter of survival of the fittest. Those with moxie win the day; those without are snuffed out as a solemn reminder to others not to step out of line.
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Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars more fun than should be reasonable for a crime novel Sept. 23 2011
By Amy Henry - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"This was underworld business: it was a mathematical certainty that it was going to end badly... Somebody was going to die. That was the only thing we knew for sure as the car raced eastward in the night."

It starts with a kidnapping that makes little sense, and moves nonstop into one of the most enjoyable literary treats I've read this year. Even though this crime novel is serious business, there's an air of humor that surrounds a trio of ex-cons and bad guys that are called in to solve the crime. Yep, these guys, having paid their dues as tough guys and retired from that life of crime, now just want to sit back and drink Calvados, eat pasta, and listen to the blues. Except for the lead, Marco Buratti, who also happens to be addicted to home shopping television shows.

The action is non-stop as it crosses through Italy and into the Balkans as the three men try to solve two mysteries. They had previously got involved in a hit that went wrong, the moral of which was, "know who you do business for and why before you shoot someone." Since they didn't obey that rule, they have to backtrack and solve that before the kidnapped woman can be found.

The characters that they run into are just that: characters. Carlotto makes them memorable, with little clues that make them feel much more complicated than just a simple definition of "bad guy". Drug smugglers have egos and their own tragic flaws, of which these experienced searchers exploit, while at the same time they lament,

"Why do Mafiosi always seem to have one useless son?"

This leads to an amusing conversation as they analyze The Godfather and The Sopranos to point out just which characters were intellectually-challenged. The rapport between the three is priceless, as they unquestionably back each other up, which would seem unlikely for the world they live in. And what a world that is, when drug smuggling and police corruption is impossibly powerful, with so many innocents thrown into the conflict.

I can't even begin to explain why this book was so much fun, given the subject matter was serious and at times, appalling. Perhaps it's the universal simplicities that unite everyone-good or bad-the power of a good meal? A view of the sea? The comfort of a regular table at the trattoria?
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Your problem these days is getting information, and the cops are the best source available." Oct. 6 2010
By Mary Whipple - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Massimo Carlotto, who has achieved as much fame for his noir mysteries involving the Mafia in Italy as he has for his seven year incarceration for a murder he did not commit, puts his knowledge of law enforcement, lawyers, the criminal justice system, and the Mafia to use in this up-close-and-personal look at the growing power of international Mafias. Set primarily in Padua, the novel introduces Marco, "the Alligator" Buratti, the owner of a small bar called La Cuccia, in which he shares ownership with Max La Memoria. Together they also do private investigations. Beniamino Rossini, a smuggler and armed robber, who was in prison with both of them, is also available to help out.

When Sylvie, Beniamino's belly dancer-lover vanishes without a trace, the three men set to work turning the underworld upside down, finding evidence to suggest that the kidnapping was related to a huge drug robbery from two years ago. The Institute of Legal Medicine of the University of Padua had stored fifty kilograms of narcotics, including thirty kilograms of heroin and ten kilos of cocaine, for toxicological testing of the active principles, and the robbery was clearly an inside job.

Shifting back and forth between the robbery and the present, Carlotto crafts his dark and terrifying story from the viewpoint of Buratti and his friends, none of whom have any qualms about doing whatever is necessary to gain information that will allow them to find Sylvie. They are helped in their investigation by their friendship with Morena Borromeo, a prostitute who has become an informer, a woman who can often get information through pillow talk with influential people. Despite their willingness to use violence and/or murder to accomplish their ends, however, Marco Buratti, Max La Memoria, and Beniamino Rossini somehow remain "human" in the hands of the author. All have ordinary interests that make it possible for readers to identify with them, despite everything else.

Carlotto compresses time throughout this novel, telling what amounts to a three-hundred page novel in fewer than two hundred pages, and readers may find themselves flipping back and forth to the table of contents to remind themselves whether they are in Padua, Grenoble, or Lugano and whether the date is 2004, 2006, 2008, or 2009. Buratti and his associates must investigate criminals and criminal enterprises that cross the boundaries of many countries and territories, all with their own internal Mafias. The Croatians, Bulgarians, Hungarians, Romanians, Turks, Russians, Serbian intelligence services, and Kosovar Mafia are all angling for power in northeast Italy, trying to control the flood of drugs coming from Morocco, Algeria, and elsewhere. Though the action is fast and furious, and the many characters are often hard to keep track of, Carlotto's novel is a satisfying noir achievement, written with insight, intelligence, and passion, even as its characters often seem to be living hopeless lives. Mary Whipple

Poisonville (World Noir)
The Fugitive
The Goodbye Kiss
3.0 out of 5 stars New Style Hard-Boiled - Sleazy - Like half a book April 17 2014
By C. Martinelli - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Bandit Love is book three in The Alligator Series, a series of noir crime novels for adults featuring Marco "The Alligator" Buratti, an ex-con turned unofficial private detective. The books are translated from the original Italian. Bandit Love features every seedy character one can imagine from the underbelly of society. I felt I needed a shower after reading this book, to wash off the filth.

Set in northeast Italy, with Marco The Alligator based in Padova (Padua), the reader is treated to a ringside seat as Eastern European gangsters fight it out for territory and influence in Italy. The Italian gangsters look like amateurs by comparison.

The first person account by Marco The Alligator is written long after the fact, describing an adventure that changed his life, and the lives of his two partners in crime and business: fellow ex-cons Max the Memory and Old Rossini. The narrative style is hard-boiled private investigator.

The overall tone of Bandit Love is jaded, cynical, male humor, but the women in the novel are, surprisingly, both victims and victimizes, but most strikingly the victims of violence.

There is a non-linear timeline that keeps the reader jumping, and there is lots of atmosphere from the criminal world, with gangsters of all sorts and types.

The biggest problem I have with Bandit Love is that there is no ending. There is no satisfying resolution to the "case". Perhaps the author is setting up the next book in the series? This book is only about 140 pages long. I reads more like the first half of a complete book, the second half of which has not yet been released. I don't like books without endings, which is why I gave it only 3 stars.

Please read my full review at Italophile Book Reviews
http://italophilebookreviews.blogspot.nl/2014/04/bandit-love-by-massimo-carlotto.html
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars All rant, no plot Oct. 9 2011
By Cary Watson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I'm a big fan of Massimo Carlotto, but Bandit Love is a mess. Carlotto is one of the better Italian crime writers, and knows more about the subject of crime than most writers thanks to having once been thrown in prison for a murder he didn't commit. His autobiographical novel about his ordeal, The Fugitive, is sensational, and his crime novels The Goodbye Kiss and The Master of Knots are lean, tough and gritty.

The problem with Bandit Love is that it's issue-driven. The issue is the corruption of Italian society from top to bottom and from side to side. In the Italy of Bandit Love everyone takes bribes, pays bribes, use drugs, sells drugs, hires illegal immigrants, or is an illegal immigrant. And while Carlotto obviously has a lot to say on this subject, he doesn't have a plot to carry his editorializing along for the ride. The story has "Alligator" (Carlotto's private eye character) helping a friend track down his kidnapped girlfriend. That story is wrapped up halfway through the novel and then Carlotto switches gears and we follow Alligator and his friends as they take revenge against the Serbian mafia boss responsible for kidnapping the woman. Both plots are lazily developed and generate zero tension.

Another sign that Carlotto really didn't have a coherent plan for this novel is that he has Alligator nattering on about jazz and blues, mentioning his favourite songs, and so on. Any time a crime writer has his main character making frequent commentaries about music, films, food or local history, you know the author's treading water because his plot is too thin. If Silvio "bunga-bunga" Berlusconi is any indication I can well believe that Italy is as rotten as it's depicted in Bandit Love, but whining and bitching about it isn't a good basis for a novel. Carlotto should take a look at Dominique Manotti, a French crime writer who effortlessly mixes political commentary with complex, fast-paced, violent plots.

You can read more of my reviews at JettisonCocoon dot com.
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