Carraturo’s novel tells the decades-long story of the mob-related Scalamarri family living through good and hard times.
In 1947, mobster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel was killed at his home. The identity of his assassin most likely resides somewhere in the lineage of the Scalamarri family, who lost 12 of its members in a fire—what came to be known as the Sunday Night Massacre. Vincent, the surviving son who witnessed the murders, tells his story years later to his grandson, Tony, and friends, Sal and Chris, all descendants of the Scalamarris. Tony and Sal agree to sever all association they have with gangsters, and Chris, a successful financial advisor, works out a deal with a friend at the FBI, allowing the other men to act as informants. The plan goes awry when wise guys start getting whacked. The author’s novel is a prequel of sorts to his previous book (Cameron Nation, 2011), which featured Chris as the protagonist. The title of his latest is a little misleading: It’s a reference to the three friends, but the plot jumps around the family tree, whose branches are depicted throughout the novel with a helpful visual, especially considering the vast number of characters in the book. In fact, the back story—Vincent’s involvement in World War II, his quest for retribution and his falling in love—is tighter and more interesting. The author aptly manages frequent leaps, sometimes with dark humor. As the two timelines converge, the novel picks up pace with stellar results: a Fed goes undercover and a seemingly insignificant character returns to chuck a wrench into the FBI’s scheme. Blending plot with real-world events and people—Watergate, George Raft and Frank Sinatra—adds a dash of authenticity to the epic.
A mob story with the prerequisite hits, casinos and Italian food, but augmented by a strong sense of camaraderie.