Carlo Cavazutti enjoys a dual identity. The recent Denton transplant is the author of three crime novels, but he’s also the central character in his inventions.
But those inventions aren’t far from Cavazutti’s real-life experiences as a police officer on the East Coast, and working closely with the Drug Enforcement Administration officer. His first novel — Showdown in Beantown — imagines a host of Albanian tough guys, a high-powered businesswoman in their crosshairs and cast of characters hiding in the shadows of Beantown (that’s Boston, for those whose boots are firmly planted in Texas).
Cavazutti is the son of a late Texas Woman’s University professor. He spent his career in law enforcement. As it turns out, the slice-of-Americana documented in popular television cop procedurals has roots in reality.
“I worked in law enforcement for 21 years in Kenmore, New York,” Cavazutti said. He spent four years with the Erie County Sheriff's Deptartment before he retired as a detective, and then went to Boston.
Cavazutti worked as private investigator, where he worked in interrogation and undercover investigation. His years in the business brought colorful characters into his professional life, and in the first of three books, a bar owner, a female assassin and a successful woman who owns her own media company were all inspired by real people.
Lady Tatiana, the business mogul with a penchant for designer shoes and handbags that cost as much as a down payment on a house, is fashioned after a real businesswoman. (“When she told someone to do something, they did it after asking how high to jump,” Cavzutti said.) Lady Tatiana’s bodyguard, though, was sketched atop of Oddjob, the bulky henchman to James Bond’s Goldfinger.
“I started writing my first book in 2011,” Cavazutti said. “Before that, I’d only written police reports. I never used an outline or anything like that. I’ll sit there and stare at the computer screen, write a little. Then I’ll lie down and, the next morning, read what I wrote the night before and then get to work.”
Cavazutti sneaked some of his favorite things into the book — like the liberal amount of Booker’s Bourbon that loosens up his characters. He also peppers the story with the cadence and vocabulary of real cops.
“It’s not what you would call politically correct,” he said. “But it’s the way real people talk. And I’m talking about the way cops talk to the people they like, their colleagues, as much as anything.”
Cavazutti dedicated the first novel to Blanche Toole, his fifth grade teacher.
“She gave me a love of reading, a love of books,” he said. “She ended up being a friend for life. She just passed away on my birthday, but she gave me a love of books and reading that will last my whole life. I love spy novels, crime novels, cop novels. I read a lot of David Baldacci — I like his Amos Decker series. I read the Jack Reacher books.”
Melange Books, the small press the picked up Showdown, will publish his second, The Rise of Chloe. In the second book, a Russian operator has set his sights on arms dealing to the Chechens, a move that puts him at the top of the Russian government’s hit list. The arms dealer is pursued by an assassin, Gina, and her protege, Chloe. (“I like to write strong female characters,” he said.) The novel frames Chloe’s sharpening skills with dark, international dealings and bloodletting.
Cavazutti is working on a third novel, The Long Ride to Perdition, a story about an American ghost town that crumbled during the Great Depression, and has since been claimed by a Mexican cartel.
“I start getting ideas while I’m writing,” Cavazutti said. “I follow them, see where they take me.”