Many have written about the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta crime syndicate, but never before has it been written about by a front-line crime-fighter. In his new book La Mala Vita (Sperling & Kupfer, 290 pp., 18 euros), Carabinieri Marshal Nino Maressa, in collaboration with writer-journalist Flavia Piccinni, tells of his years spent within the Special Operations Group (ROS), the main investigative arm of the Carabinieri dealing with organized crime. Maressa, whose very first, almost impossible mission was to capture 'Ndrangheta boss of bosses Giuseppe Morabito, takes the reader onto the investigative front lines, showing how intuition and the human factor are sometimes more powerful than technological prowess. Like some of his ROS comrades, Maressa is Calabrian, and knows the territory from the ground up. He eventually specialized in capturing Italy's most wanted fugitives, including those on the country's list of 30 most dangerous, and was one of the Operation Labyrinth investigators into the 2007 'Ndrangheta hit on six men in Duisburg, in Germany. La Mala Vita, which is being issued on the fifth anniversary of those multiple murders, goes back to the 1990s origins of the feud that sent a hit man all the way to Germany.
Piccinni, who is a staff writer at Nuovi Argomenti magazine, writes for the Bari and Tuscan editions of La Repubblica newspaper and several periodicals. An award-winning novelist, she is the recipient of many literary prizes, including the Campiello youth prize. She is the author of the novels Adesso Tienimi (Fazi, 2007) and Lo Sbaglio (Rizzoli, 2011).