- Paperback: 624 pages
- Publisher: Ace; Reprint edition (Sept. 2 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0441010547
- ISBN-13: 978-0441010547
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.6 x 22.6 cm
- Shipping Weight: 1 Kg
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,550,340 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Carlucci 3-in1 Paperback – Sep 2 2003
Customers who bought this item also bought
No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
About the Author
Richard Paul Russo is the author of the Philip K. Dick Award-winning novel, Ship of Fools, and the critically-acclaimed Carlucci series, including Destroying Angel, Carlucci's Edge, and Carlucci's Heart.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
As another reviewer mentions, the first tale isn't actually about Carlucci, but the story does set the stage for the SF police detective's starring role in the second two tales. The three stories are distinct and complete, not linked other than by the occassional re-appearance of minor characters.
The plots were involved enough to hold my interest, but not so convoluted that I lost track of what was happening. But Russo's real strength is in his descriptive power and ability to elicit our empathy for many of the scumbags that lurk in his gritty world. "Stark" might be the best word to describe how Russo describes the chaos and tensions of a Bay Area polarized into a gleaming Financial District and the Tenderloin, a teeming zone of danger and opportunity for outcasts, thugs and perverts. I found myself aching at times with the poignancy with which these novels are drawn.
"Carlucci" always fascinates. The strange and bizarre constantly crawl across the page. There is little in the way of flashy technology, gadgets and science. Instead, the book's weirdness is rooted firmly in its main characters and supporting cast. Russo envisions a segment of society for whom all taboo and restriction has broken down. Mutilated "spikeheads", insane "head cages", Inquisitor-like "saints", ultra-intelligent but bloated "slugs", the fervently religious "screamers" with their mouths surgically sewn shut... Russo keeps the parade of pervsion coming hard and fast.
And in the middle of it all is Carlucci, a career detective with a normal family, a fondess for the jazz trumpet, and a dependence on black coffee that is as relentless as his pursuit of whatever scraps of justice he can scavenge from a corrupt system. Another reviewer felt Carlucci's basic goodness made him less interesting, but I found it actually heightened the sense of peril as you so desperately want things to turn out well at least for this one poor guy. There are plenty of morally suspect and flawed characters present to impart a sense of hazard. And believe me, you won't forget the baddies, either. Russo rarely relies on a Stephen King-like shock factor, eschewing graphic violence and gore in favor of mood, suspense and dialogue.
One caveat. These are relentlessly sad stories. There are some lighthearted moments, but the overall atmosphere is dark and gritty and depressing. Carlucci is one guy making his way in a rotten system. All victories are Pyrrhic. Main characters die, with zero regard for age, gender or moral fortitude. Like Carlucci and the rest of his society, you'll just have to live with that.
This does not mean that "Carlucci" ain't worth the read. Far from it. Russo does a wonderful job sidestepping most all of the red-herrings and cliches that normally clutter the cyberpunk genre. Sure, there are a few here. Good cops going up against shadowy corporations. Police officers driven to alcoholism and suicide by the things they see on a daily basis. Etc...
Russo's 21st San Francisco occupies such a vivid world, generates such intense interest in the reader, that idiotic chase scenes, useless gunplay and overly graphic violence are all unnecessary. The intrigue, the characters, and the story are all that's needed. Russo delivers.
As I said before, "Carlucci" does not compare to Russo's masterwork, "Ship of Fools". Whereas "Ship of Fools" took on themes of spirituality, alienation and love (not to mention a decent dose of horror) and ran with them, the books collected in "Carlucci" are straightforward detective novels set in the future.
I have one complaint. The major character of the first "Carlucci" book, "Destroying Angel", is NOT Frank Carlucci, but Louis Tanner, a burnt-out ex-cop who trafficks in illegal medicine. I liked Tanner. Alot. I felt a little cheated when the later books, "Carlucci's Edge" and "Carlucci's Heart" eschewed the Tanner character entirely. While Carlucci is interesting, he's a cop anti-stereotype. He's still married. Loves his family. Doesn't drink or smoke to excess and isn't given to violence as a way to solve his issues. In short, the man has some principles. Its a nice idea, but it makes everything seem a little less than dangerous.
Despite that, "Carlucci" is still a compelling read.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
In a gritty, modern San Francisco, an ex-cop and a teenage girl separately look out for a serial killer. There is an SF element to the book, but it's largely a crime story. As SF, it does a fair job describing a depressing near future San Francisco that's separated by class and inhabited by interesting characters. Unfortunately, Russo works a little too hard on painting the picture. Pretty much every time the protagonists turn around, there's another description of a new category of characters. After a while, it's just too much - we get the picture, it's gritty. I don't need to see the details of each particular kind of grit.
Rather than just running description, I would have preferred to see more about how this stratified society actually works. For example, Russo sets up the Tenderloin as a special sector that's hard to get in and out of. But after the first time, characters seem to get in and out with no trouble at all. And with so much of the city seemingly given over to vice and violence, it's hard to see why a special district is needed.
The story itself is a fairly straightforward crime story. It's reasonably well done, but nothing special. The characters are interesting, and the book stays readable, but not hard to put down. At some points, I was reluctant to pick it back up, but that may be because I'm more interested in SF than crime.
All in all, probably worth a read if you're a crime fan who can tolerate SF. Less worthy for SF fans who can tolerate crime.
The problem with describing a depraved society is that the violations need to be even more depraved to be credible. I found Carlucci's Edge to be less satisfying than its prequel. The plot, for one thing, hinged on a situation that was completely unsurprising in the milieu as described. The denouement left me wanting, thinking isn't there more?, even though it had been clear for some time that there wasn't.
The characters themselves were mildly interesting, but not deeply. Russo sets up several close relationships, but they were largely described in a cursory manner, and it was difficult to feel much about them.
The first novel had the benefit of (over-)describing a new and interesting environment. This story, though more involved, is less interesting, and neither engages our interest in the environment, nor sets out a sufficiently intriguing mystery to carry itself.
If you really liked Destroying Angel, or really like crime stories, this is worth a read, but otherwise, pass.
I found this story to be similar to its immediate predecessor, Carlucci's Edge, though with a bit more emotion to it. Russo completes several cycles, in a sense, by finally going further into the Core, and by tying up some loose ends about New Hong Kong.
Fundamentally, however, Edge and Heart were similar - Carlucci chances on a case, encounters resistance, deals with 'slugs', and spends a lot of time in the Tenderloin. His wife and family play a slightly larger role in this book, but while they play a nominally central role, they feel much more like adjuncts than key players.
Overall, a decent police story with a mild SF edge. Russo continues to rely heavily on pass-by descriptions of strange characters than on a fully developed economy or environment, and it shows.
Trilogy as a whole
As I noted at the beginning, I'm an SF reader, not a crime reader. These books are written for the converse audience. For me, they weren't satisfying. The SF trimmings are exactly that - trimmings. While the plot does depend on them in some way, an only slightly modified plot could have taken place in 1850. Russo depends quite a lot on description of outre types and a modern-noir feel, but I never had the feeling that his San Francisco could be a real place. For one thing, despite all the dropping of familiar street names, there's never a sense of the city as a whole, and how it functions on an economic and social level. The focus is always on the bizarre Tenderloin district, but Russo undercuts himself in selling it as isolated but showing that there is virtually unlimited access to it. If it's unclear how the city operates, the same is true of the Tenderloin, and, at the opposite end, of the nation as a whole - it's not even clear what the nation is.
As crime fiction, the stories seem acceptable, though I'm not the best judge. As science fiction, they don't work well. As literature in general, they're passable. It's clear from The Rosetta Codex that Mr. Russo can write fairly well. I don't believe he's done it here.
My major comment and the reason for my title is the really glum, despondent, morose . . .I think of run out of synonyms here. Ruso really paints a bleak and scary picture of the close future. I remember a article I think Ray Bradbury wrote years ago. He said that on days when he felt especially good, he'd write a quick dismal story just to get all traces of depression out of his system. Maybe that is what Ruso is doing here. Although most of them of a quick nod to emotional uplift at the end, they are, for the most part really bleak views of the world.
Don't let that turn you off unless you are a perpetual Pollyanna; we all need a dose of the blues from time to time.