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The Master of Knots Hardcover – 7 Jan 2005

3.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (7 Jan. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752857355
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752857350
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 16.4 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 694,293 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'What makes this book particularly interesting is the interaction between the three men, whose conversations reflect the author's own experiences and beliefs as a Left-wing activist who spent time in prison in Italy before being pardoned.' (Susanna Yager SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)

'Fans of edgy, fast-paced detective thrillers will find themselves happily tied up in Carlotto's strange and dangerous world.' (IRELAND ON SUNDAY)

'This is as dark and troubling a thriller as you could ask for, and reveals a side of modern Italy tourists can count themselves lucky they don't see.' (Myles McWeeney IRISH INDEPENDENT)

Book Description

A gritty noir thriller from the author of THE COLOMBIAN MULE. 'Probably the best living Italian crime writer' Il Manifesto.

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By Rowena Hoseason HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on 2 Aug. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Judging a book by its cover is famously futile. But I fell for it nonetheless...
The 2014 Europa Edition of Massimo Carlotto’s ‘Master of Knots’ is a superficially thing of salacious sensation. The cover-art is overtly sexual: the dust-jacket itself is unusually high quality and pleasingly tactile, and the back-cover blurb is nothing less than the opening moments of an erotic strip-tease. It all suggests a mature, sensual exploration of explicit themes within.

The short prologue, too, was presumably written to attract a certain type of reader. It details the death of a beautiful woman during extreme BDSM and is the only part of the novel to dare to tread that dangerous ground. Here the author gets close to the core of the matter: the morality of sexual pleasure at the knife-edge of acceptability. But then he bails out, scampers back to the safety of a traditional pulp-fiction back-streets investigation – and not a particularly well developed one at that.
It’s a cop-out, plain and simple. And I have to wonder if this edition isn’t entirely intended to capitalise on the publicity flurry accompanying the ‘50 Shades…’ film.

The teasing intro aside, Master of Knots is an entirely average detective tale. A trio of over-the-hill Italian reformed criminals – one with mob connections, two rather more lightweight – undertake occasional investigations where victims can’t involve the police. The husband of a missing woman begs them to find out what happened to his wife after the pair of them fell foul of blackmailing bad guys, one of whom has a kink for the wilder side. Don’t wait with bated breath for the Master of Knots to make his appearance: he’s nothing more than a shadow, an underdeveloped plot device, a meaningless MacGuffin.
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Format: Paperback
Massimo Carlotto went on the run when falsely implicated in a crime in his native Italy, but he returned eventually to serve out his term. The miscarriage of justice that he faced colours his perception of the ruling classes in his country, and his The Master of Knots is filled with revulsion for the entire legal and investigative establishment. Carlotto is a left-wing activist, which informs the novel considerably: the juxtaposition of a crime procedural with Communist politics might appear a bit contrived, but the main characters in this novel manage to straddle both worlds with equal facility. At any rate, this is an exploration of yet another underbelly: the extreme S&M scene, very disturbingly graphic at times. Women willing to be dominated are a rare and prized commmodity in those circles, so it is somewhat puzzling to find that one of them has been murdered; shortly thereafter, her husband and another woman he dominated also go missing. Carlotto describes the extreme precautions members of the S&M tribe take to avoid trouble with the law and suspicion with their 'normal' families; he goes into considerable detail about 'snuff' porn; he throws in an anti-globalisation demonstration in which the police viciously club protesters to pulp; amidst all this, the three protagonists stalk their prey in the shadowy underground. An uneven read, and often troubling.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
enjoyed this , the story was well paced
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.8 out of 5 stars 6 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Masterful Knot Master 14 May 2005
By CEB - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Set in Italy, Master of Knots has as its main character, Marco, aka Alligator, a private investigator and bar owner. Working with him are two close friends: Beniamino Rossini, a past gangster, and Max the Memory. All three men have spent time in prison, Marco for something he didn't do, and a fair amount of the book describes the horrors of life in an Italian prison in detail.

A friend has sent a client, Mariano Giraldi, to Marco for help. Giraldi's wife, Helena, has been kidnapped, and in the room from which she was abducted, a rose, made from intricate knots in a silken rope, has been left. Further investigation uncovers the fact that the Giraldis were into sadomasochism, and soon other women, also involved in S&M, begin to disappear. A sadistic psychopath nicknamed Master of Knots is at work, and Marco and friends must try to discover his identity and stop him before he can kidnap again.

The Master of Knots is dark, with graphic scenes and gutter language. My one complaint about the book is that everything was tied up in great haste at the end.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, but... 11 Feb. 2014
By Eric C. Welch - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I had never read any of Carlotto before discovering this book in his “Alligator” series. Marco, ex-con, now private investigator without a license, and bar owner sets out with two other ex-cons (well, Rossini is still an active gangster) to eliminate a gang of S&M degenerates.

Mariano Giraldi comes to hire Marco and his friends “Max the Memory” and Rossini, to locate his wife, Helena who has been kidnapped. She specialized in being a model for S&M photographs. The husband who had a relationship with a different submissive dared not go to the police for fear their lifestyle would become public and his business would suffer. The woman has been gone a month leaving little hope of finding her alive. Others then disappear as Marco et al realize they have stumbled on to an S&M blackmail ring and snuff-film maker.

There’s a subplot revolving around the G8 summit meeting in Genoa in 2001. The police engaged in some serious violence against demonstrators and many were later brought to trial. Max, a Free Trade advocate, goes to protest and is seriously injured. Obviously Carlotto is making a strong political statement.

The dizzying amounts of Italian Lira being thrown around dates the book since the Lira was replaced by the Euro in 1999-2002. When they pay 20,000,000 Lira as a bribe to a hooker, my head begins to wobble a bit. That aside, this is a fun, if inconsequential, little entertainment that shows a very dark side of Italy’s corruption. If you want something as dark but more literary, read Donna Leon’s books. They are both entertaining and literate. Carlotto suffers by comparison.
5.0 out of 5 stars Carlotto's best work to date 11 Mar. 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Carlotto's usual bare knuckled and remorseless grappling with evil in contemporary Italian society is on full display once again. What elevates the story and characters this time around is that the 3 ex-con friends, who form an informal private detective agency of sorts, actually have some moral grounding despite their outsider status. This is a welcome departure from the intelligent and fascinating but relentlessly sociopathic protagonists in Death's Dark Abyss, Another Dull Day and the Goodbye Kiss. We even get some keen political insight into the Genoa hosted G8 summit and the brutal way it was handled by police and security forces there as a sidelight to the main action. Another departure, despite the prurient subject matter of snuff S&M, is the real understanding and sympathy for the women victimized here and the social pressures that lead to their lifestyle, the underground nature of which leaves them vulnerable to the evil criminal group led by the titular character.

My only disappointment, pointed out rightly by another reviewer, is that the ending is abrupt and therefore not as satisfying as one would like or expect.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and entertaining noir with a decidedly Italian flavor. 26 Dec. 2014
By Patrick E Sheehy - Published on
Format: Paperback
The real value of Carlotto's work is in the relationships that he portrays between his characters and his intimate lnowledge of what prison can do to a man.
4.0 out of 5 stars the best of Carlotto 14 July 2015
By tom - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
this is one of the best of the Massimo Carlotto books, they are all good but this one is so far the best. great read
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