In Anselmi’s debut novel, a self-made man is accused of murdering his business partner and wife.
Guy Bennett, the son of Italian immigrants, is living the American dream. He oversees a real estate empire, has his own skyscraper in Manhattan, and his son, Albert, is a newly elected U.S. senator. But as he fights off a hostile takeover, he’s accused of killing his business partner, Vito Petrozzini, and his wife, Lena. As a result, his world comes crashing down around him. It turns out that he’s being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Thomas Straid, who’s out for revenge for losing his own senatorial bid. Guy’s younger son, Edward, defends him even though he despises Guy for refusing to acknowledge his pregnant Japanese lover, Nancy. Edward comes to believe that his father is being framed, and his search for the truth takes him into the past of his grandfather Dante Di Benedetto. In addition to being a murder mystery, courtroom drama and business thriller, this is also a story about the immigrant experience in America. In a lengthy flashback, readers follow Dante and his best friend, Adamo Petrozzini, father of Vito, as they make the journey from Italy to America and put down new roots in Jersey City, New Jersey. For his debut, Anselmi has written an ambitious and downright old-fashioned novel. Its narrative covers a lot of ground, from 1920 Italy to near-present-day New York City. However, there’s a stolid quality to the writing that may prevent some readers from fully engaging with the material. The characters lack the necessary shading to convince readers that they’re worthy of sympathy. Although this book’s depiction of immigrant life, big business and senatorial politics fuses together many different genres, it does so in a way that’s imitative, not immersive.
A novel with laudable ambitions that doesn’t generate enough real drama to galvanize its torpid narrative.