cover image The Goodbye Kiss

The Goodbye Kiss

Massimo Carlotto. Europa Editions, $14.95 (144pp) ISBN 978-1-933372-05-1

Hailed as the master of the Mediterranean noir, Carlotto (The Columbian Mule) misfires in this disjointed, pulpy tale of carnage and crime. Taking a break from his acclaimed Alligator detective series, the Italian writer introduces us to Giorgio Pellegrini, a left wing radical who fled Italy after orchestrating a bombing, and after a long stint as a Central American guerilla fighter, returns to Italy to avoid a prison sentence. Picked up by the Italian police and facing a life sentence for the bombing, Giorgio snitches on his former comrades and serves a little time before his release and speedy relapse into vice. He finds work at a strip joint and quickly forms an uneasy alliance with the crooked cop who arrested him. Their plan, to rob an armored truck, is a wild success that allows Giorgio to feign and murder his way up the social ladder. Carlotto writes from experience (he was a left-wing radical who spent time in prison in Italy and Mexico) and it shows in this gritty, hold-nothing-back take on crime and the scant value of loyalty. Unfortunately, it doesn't make a palatable plot. The story stumbles over rocky transitions and scenes of gratuitous brutality. While his approach to social chaos is intriguing, the grisly, superfluous violence is a pale substitute for the unique criminal philosophy Carlotto is known for.