LUCIANO'S LUCK by Jack Higgins

LUCIANO'S LUCK

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KIRKUS REVIEW

It's ""a matter of historical fact,"" Higgins says in a preface, that Patton's 1943 invasion of Sicily was helped by US-jailed gangster Lucky Luciano, who ordered the Sicilian Mafia to cooperate. The premise of this active but uninvolving ""faction"" thriller, however, goes a bit further: Luciano had to be taken in person to Nazi-occupied Sicily to persuade the US-hating godfather there--Don Luca--to give his followers a pro-Allies signal. The organizer of this expedition is British Major Harry Carter, acting on Algiers orders from Ike himself--whose British-accented dialogue is less than convincing. (E.g., ""Damn me, Major, but I have a sneaking suspicion you might be right."") Carter must first persuade Luciano to go along, which he manages only with a visit to FDR. Then it's on to London, where he cajoles Don Luca's estranged granddaughter, nun/nurse Maria, into joining the mission. And eventually the group--Carter, Luciano, Maria, plus two Americans--is parachuted into Sicily, where they must secretly make their way to the Den's monastery hideout. Complications arise, of course: one of the Americans is captured and torture-interrogated by the Nazis (who are feuding internally); and some local Communists try to assassinate the good guys. But finally the team arrives at Don Luca's, having stopped along the way to help out a breach birth; the Don is adamant, however, hating the US (they electrocuted his brother) and his family-rejecting grandchild. And by now Nazi paratroopers are arriving, so there's a flurry of violence. . . including the Nazi killing of Maria--which does at last convince the Don to help the Allies. Thin premise, cardboard characters (Luciano becomes blandly noble), creaky dialogue: this is one of the weakest Jack Higgins/Harry Patterson books, with neither the historical textures of The Eagle Has Landed nor the taut suspense of Solo. But it's short and fairly fast, with regular injections of violent action--so fans of WW II suspense will find this painless even if they never much care what happens.

Pub Date: Sept. 8th, 1981
ISBN: 1453200592
Publisher: Stein & Day