The Master of Knots Hardcover – 7 Jan 2005
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'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)
A gritty noir thriller from the author of THE COLOMBIAN MULE. 'Probably the best living Italian crime writer' Il Manifesto.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
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.