SUBURRA by Carlo  Bonini


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Rome is a hotbed of political corruption, violence, and scheming at the end of Silvio Berlusconi’s reign as prime minister in this modern Mafia novel.

Some of the most powerful Mafia families in town, led by a shadowy figurehead known as Samurai, are taking advantage of the unrest to hatch a multibillion dollar plan to build a luxury waterfront development that will also give them full control of the nearby port of Ostia. But Mafia egos are notoriously delicate, and, inevitably, murder will undercut the spirit of "family" cooperation. The novel begins with a politician covering up the death of a prostitute he's just had sex with, which leads a relatively unimportant gang member to overestimate his power. When he ends up murdered, the response from his family is swift. In the middle of this vicious quagmire stands one smart and noble Carabinieri, Marco Malatesta, himself a product of the violent streets. With help from the magistrate Michelangelo de Candia and a firebrand leftist named Alice Savelli, Marco not only uncovers the complex plans and the murders at their heart, but also sets his sights on Samurai, determined to catch the puppet master once and for all. The novel is set in a very specific time, and it is a novel of Rome, meaning that the city itself, in all its history, glory, and despair, is skillfully sewn into the fiber of the tale. At the same time, there is something old-fashioned about the narrative, because it clearly evokes Mario Puzo’s famous trilogy and other classics of the genre. It can be hard to keep track of all the characters, but loose ends are admirably tied up in the end.

While the complex plot intrigues, there is so much violence, so much dirty scheming, that even when the “good guys” win, it’s hard to muster up much hope for Rome itself.

Pub Date: Aug. 22nd, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-60945-407-4
Page count: 528pp
Publisher: Europa Editions
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2017


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