This is a spaghetti noir novel written by a very unusual crime writer.
If you have not heard about this spectacular author I can tell you that Carlotto was accused of a murder he did not commit during college; the murder of his girlfriend and fellow student. He went into exile and hid in both France and Mexico. He was caught in Mexico in 1976 and brought back to Italy where he was arrested and imprisoned.
It was not until 1993, after a presidential pardon that Carlotto was released. Since then he has been working as a crime writer and he has written both novels and newspaper articles.
Last time I read a book by Carlotto was during a vacation in Spain, where I read The Fugitive in Italian with the help of the Spanish I learned in school and an English-Italian dictionary. Although not a crime novel, the story was an exciting autobiographical crime story.
Now I have read the first novel about Carlotto’s private investigator from the criminal world, the Alligator, and I understand that this raw, cruel, but straightforward and simple story must come from something other than a flourishing imagination. The environments are naked and bare, the characters much deeper. For Massimo Carlotto it is all about conveying a message.
In short the story is about Marco Buratti, also known as the Alligator, and his buddy Beniamino Rossini who he got to know in prison. They make an unusual pair, who do not veer off course even though it may irritate a couple of gangsters. They are working on salvaging their dead prison-buddy’s reputation, since they realize that he probably is as innocent as he persistently claimed, although all the evidence clearly points in his direction.
The Alligator and Beniamino is figuratively and literally walking over dead bodies to dig up the truth, and after a lot of obstacles and using unconventional methods they find the truth. A truth where the evidence is accepted in their circles, but that would hardly be accepted by the general public.
Justice is served, with or without a new trial.
Original title in Italian: La verità dell’alligatore