De Cataldo, Giancarlo, editor, Crimini: The Bitter Lemon Book of Italian Crime Fiction
As De Cataldo, an appellate judge, points out in his pithy preface, corruption is a theme shared by all nine stories in this first U.S. anthology of Italian noir. The dark farce, "You Are My Treasure Chest" by Niccolo Ammaniti and Antonio Manzini, recounts the misadventures of drug-addicted plastic surgeon Paolo Bocchi, who finds a creative solution to hiding a stache of cocaine when he must perform breast-enhancement surgery on one of Italy's leading soap opera actresses. Carlo Lucarelli's lean "The Third Shot," the volume's most impressive entry, centers on an officer-involved shooting in Bologna. Expectations are confounded when the threat from organized crime in Massimo Carlotto's "Death of an Informer" stems not from the Mafia but from Chinese gangs who have taken over the protection rackets in small towns the Italian mobsters have abandoned. As Carlotto's story suggests, the increasing role of immigrants in Italian society has become a major theme in Italian noir. The high quality and variety of these tales will leave many readers hoping for another such selection soon.