Category Archives: Eurocrime

Mid-summer reading report back: Perfidia, Japanese tattoos, eighties sleaze

Perfidia

Summer in Melbourne is usually the one time of the year I can be guaranteed to get a fair amount of personal reading done. As has become my annual practice, a short report back on the books I have got through is in order.

Perfidia, James Ellroy

I need to preface my comments on Perfidia by stressing I am a massive Ellroy fan. I have read all of his books – ALL of them – many more than once. I even liked The Cold Six Thousand and Blood’s A Rover, the two books that most divided readers. So, it is with a heavy heart that I say Perfidia is very disappointing. The long awaited prelude to Ellroy’s LA Quintet, Perfidia takes place in Los Angeles over 23 days in December 1941, a period in which American went from being at piece to the attack on Pearl Harbour and the country being at war.

The focal point of the book is the brutal murder on the eve of Pearl Harbour of a Japanese family. The killings have all the hallmarks of traditional Japanese ritual deaths. Drawn into the murder investigation are future LAPD chief William H Parker, the meanest crime fiction cop ever created, Dudley Smith, a brilliant young Japanese police forensic scientist, and Kay Lake, a woman with a major thing for bad men.… Read more

My top fiction and non-fiction reads of 2014

Time for me to present Pulp Curry readers with the list of my best reads for 2014. As is customary, I will start off by admitting, yet again, I feel I have not read nearly as much as I should have. My reading this year has been dominated by books for work, including material for freelance articles and the various literary festival panels I’ve been involved in. A considerable amount of my attention has also been directed to reading related to the non-fiction book I have been co-editing, Beat Girls, Love Tribes and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950-1980, which is scheduled to be published in October 2015.

With all that said, here’s the top ten books I read in 2014. I’ve split my list in two this year – fiction and non-fiction.

My top fiction reads are as follows:

escape-dominique-manotti

Escape, Dominique Manotti 

I have long been interested in the political history in Italy in the seventies and eighties, the so-called ‘years of lead’, when left wing paramilitary groups and right wing extremists in the military and police were locked in a shadowy, violent conflict. Dominique Manotti’s Escape is set in the late eighties and deals with the aftermath of that conflict. Filippo is a common street hood that shares a prison cell with Carlos, a charismatic former Red Brigade member.… Read more

Italian noir trilogy: Calibre 9, The Italian Connection, The Boss

Although Italian cinema has produced some fantastic crime films, it never really took to noir. The exceptions are three movies by little known director Fernando Di Leo, Milano Calibre 9 (Calibre 9), La Mala Ordina (The Italian Connection) and Il Boss (The Boss).

Connected more by similar themes and actors than plot, they nonetheless form a rough trilogy of films combining fast paced story telling and gritty violence with a highly political analysis of the changing nature of organised crime and the dissolution of the Italian working class.

The most overtly noir of the three films, Calibre 9 (1972) centres on low-level mafia foot soldier, Ugo Piazzo (Gastrone Mochin, a well known Italian comic actor at the time). Released after three years in jail, Ugo is braced by Rocco (Mario Adorf), a clownish but lethal mob associate working for a Milanese crime boss known as The Americano.

Still smarting from losing $300,000 several years earlier (a breath taking series of scenes in the film’s first few minutes), The Americano thinks Ugo took the money and stashed it away while he was in jail. So does everyone else, including the cops, his friends and his ambitious stripper girlfriend (Euro-crime regular, Barbara Bouchet).

Ugo denies the allegation.… Read more