Kirkus Star


The True Story of the Women Who Took on the World’s Most Powerful Mafia
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The highly compelling story of the women who dared to break omertà, the Mafia code of silence.

In fully developing his subjects, Perry (The Rift: A New Africa Breaks Free, 2015, etc.) shows remarkable empathy for their plights. The women were raised in Calabria, the home to the ’Ndrangheta, an arm of the Mafia, just like the Camorra of Naples and the Cosa Nostra of Sicily. Italy cracked down on the Sicilian Mafia in the early 1980s, outlawing any relationship, even familial. By the mid-2000s, Cosa Nostra was a shadow of itself. Then the ’Ndrangheta stepped in, took over the narcotics trade, and expanded it to a multibillion-euro business. In 2009, a prosecutor named Alessandra Cerreti was assigned to Calabria, and her tireless work uncovered the truth. In this captivating true-crime narrative, the author paints a frightening and intimate picture of women’s misery under the rule of organized crime. Many were denied education, they knew their sons would end up murderers, and their daughters married early and were routinely abused. They were part of the clan, and voluntarily or not, women worked as messengers, bookkeepers, and heads of the business when their husbands were “unavailable.” In the mid-1990s, ’Ndrangheta wife Lea Garofalo left her husband, taking her daughter to inform against the Mafia. She spent years in the witness protection program; unfortunately, her witness produced no arrests. Garofalo and her daughter hid for years, knowing her husband was following them. She eventually attempted reconciliation, knowing full well she would likely be murdered. Fortunately, she was not the only woman who was fed up with the misogynist tyranny and oppression of the “family.” Giuseppina Pesce and Maria Concetta Cacciola were friends and were ready to talk. Both had children, and their information proved to be priceless. Desperate, their families used their children to try to get them back for the singular purpose of murdering them.

An impossible-to-put-down page-turner revealing the Mafia makeup and three courageous women who bore witness to save others.

Pub Date: June 5th, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-06-265560-8
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2018


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