Carlotto (The Goodbye Kiss
), who served time for a murder he didn't commit before becoming a writer, has crafted a subtle and disturbing tale of the effects of violence on its survivors. Wine salesman Silvano Contin's unremarkable but happy life is irrevocably shattered when a pair of bank robbers seize his wife and young son as hostages, and then execute them. Unable to endure much human contact, Contin ekes out a living repairing shoes. When the one murderer who was apprehended is diagnosed with cancer, he seeks Contin's assistance in gaining an early release from incarceration. The widower's desire for justice-and the identity of the killer who escaped scot-free-leads him to make some unusual decisions and propels him down a very dark road. The author manages to make Contin's descent into hell plausible and heartbreaking, and devises an ingenious and even touching resolution.