It's a powerful line but spoken matter-of-factly, amid cocktail-party chatter in a luxurious apartment as guests catch sight of a banner commemorating the events of Tiananmen Square. The guests drop the subject as suddenly as they bring it up.
I don't like references to a novel's "texture" because I'm not always sure what the word means. With Manotti, it would mean terse writing, spare character reactions even in scenes of violence, low-key jokes that have a sharp effect set against the laconic prose that surrounds them. All this makes for a fast pace, especially when Manotti describes harsh but small crimes that must be building to something bigger. The resulting suspense is why I regard Manotti's novels as part crime, part thriller, or better, as crime thrillers.
This is all the more impressive because her novels range widely and cover big topics: from horse barns to corporate takeovers, from sweatshops to government security services, massive international drug smuggling and high-level assassination attempts, from factory floors to the highest offices of power in France. These could easily be earmarks of fat, sprawling doorstops, yet the three books available in English check in at about 255 pages for Rough Trade, around 200 for Lorraine Connection, and a spartan 175 for Dead Horsemeat. That's just one factor that makes reading Manotti a bracing experience.
© Peter Rozovsky 2009