Sunday, October 01, 2006

Update: Shame-Faced Podcast

In the latest episode of the spin-off blog’s podcast, Rosemarie and I finally right a great wrong by watching Billy Wilder’s The Lost Weekend along with another classic treatment of alcoholism, Days of Wine and Roses.

For our straight-no-chaser conversation, direct download it here or get it at iTunes.

Book: Death’s Dark Abyss, by Massimo Carlotto (2004, U.S. 2006)

Great title, isn’t it? Read this in a coffee shop and have Goth chicks flocking to you. Assuming Goth chicks frequent coffee shops and engage in flocking behavior. I should look into that.

It’s been too long since I sang the praises of Europa Editions. I raved about The Goodbye Kiss, an earlier Carlotto title, in Mystery*File. His follow-up is every bit as strong.

A criminal takes a woman and child hostage during a botched robbery, killing them both. Fifteen years into a life sentence, he’s diagnosed with cancer and seeks a pardon so he can receive treatment outside the prison walls. Little does he suspect that the third victim of his crime, the husband and father he left bereft, will seize this opportunity for revenge.

Carlotto knows how to make a reader uncomfortable. He twists our automatic sympathy for the victim, who in this case is a man incapable of participating in life until his first taste of vengeance renders him a monster. By contrast, the criminal is a savvy, almost amiable hustler all too aware of the toll of his actions. The ending achieves a kind of shocking grace. This one is as spare (less than 150 pages!) and as dark as they come.