The Colombian Mule, by Massimo Carlotto (Europa Editions)
The plot: Arias Cuevas is caught by the police trying to carry a shipment of cocaine into Italy. Meanwhile, Cuevas' Colombian employer, la Tía, is facing blowback from the Alligator, an ex-con turned investigator defending the art dealer who ordered the coke.
Crazy backstory: At 19, Carlotto was framed for a murder he didn't commit. After fleeing to France and Mexico City, he returned to Italy, where he was arrested and tortured.
Who it's for: Fiction lovers curious about life beyond the surface in modern Italy.