A Bullet for Carlos

Book Review of Giacomo Giammatteo’s A Bullet for Carlos

A Bullet for CarlosAfter reviewing Giacomo Giammatteo‘s Murder Has Consequences last week, I was brazen enough to ask him if he would send me A Bullet for Carlos. OK, maybe I passive aggressively suggested that if he was interested in a review he might pass a copy along, which isn’t quite the same thing but had much the same results.  He was kind enough to comply without even calling me out on my bad form. Thanks for that Jim.

Description from Goodreads:
Detective Connie Giannelli’s life has been torn apart several times. First when her mother died and then years later when she found out her Uncle Dominic was in the mob. Her life is about to be shredded again, and this time it could destroy her. 

Connie’s love of family and her badge are both threatened when an undercover drug bust leaves two cops dead and the drugs missing. Internal Affairs is looking for any excuse to take her badge, but she’s not worried about them finding the missing drugs—her secrets could prove to be far worse. 

Now Connie’s racing against the clock to figure out who killed her partners and took the drugs—dirty cops or Uncle Dominic’s friends. And she has to do it before IA pins the whole damn thing on her.

At this point I’m beginning to think that I aught to just preemptively mark any book by Giacomo Giammatteo as a five star, ’cause I’m just gonna love it. A Bullet for Carlos was no exception. Mr. Giammatteo somehow makes bad, bad men lovable. I adored Dominic, even though he was unquestionably dangerous and maybe even evil. Though I kind of think the things that made me love him also redeem him a little bit, as well as made me wonder if deeper exploration of other such evil characters (like Carlos) might reveal small redemptive qualities too. It definitely leads a reader to consider whether anyone can really be wholly evil, no matter how bad they appear on the surface or to an outsider. This same theme is further explored when good cops are left having to decide if or when they’ll choose to ‘cross the line’ for the greater good.

This is much more of a police drama than a mafia mystery, but I was THRILLED when Donovan and Mazzetti showed up as side characters. This was the first book by Giammatteo I’ve read that wasn’t part of the Friendship & Honor series and I was really afraid I’d miss Nicky and Frankie enough to sour my experience of reading it. No such thing. Connie and Tip were great characters on their own. If I HAD to choose I’d still take Nicky/Frankie, but I don’t have to choose so I’m free to enjoy both in future books. And I plan to.

I also rather enjoyed the cultural differences between New York and Texas. No big deal was made of this, but the small regional quirks were apparent. Different catch phrases, politeness levels, etc. It is yet one more testament of Giammatteo’s talent that he can take such small matters and somehow invest them with so much meaning, having a large impact on the feel of the book. It’s enviable really. My only complaint, beyond the fact I have to wait for more books, is one I’ve mentioned before and is JUST a personal preference. The main protagonist was a rapist and there were a few ‘tasteful’ rape scenes. By which I just mean they weren’t gratuitous or titillating in any fashion. They furthered the plot and weren’t overly uncomfortable, but they were there. I look forward to the continuation of this series. Definitely worth a read.

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