Giordano (Birds of Passage, 2014) introduces Anthony Provati, a reckless Lothario who becomes a hunted man in a global showdown of vicious organized criminals and terrorists.
Anthony Provati, lounge pianist and gallery owner, has an ill-advised flirtation with the mistress of a dangerous Russian mob boss, Gorgon Malakhov. Gorgon is a jealous, vengeful monster with a bloodthirsty bodyguard, and the woman, Sophia, is both terrified and conniving. Tensions escalate between Provati and Malakhov while Provati and Sophia relieve considerable tension together. Provati’s life is now in danger, and in one of a few plot contrivances, he seeks help from his NYPD friend who happens also to be on the mobster’s hit list. What follows is a parade of brutal deplorables—Italian, Colombian, and Jewish mobsters in New York, then corrupt Russian intelligence agents, Italian Mafiosi, fine-art thieves, and ex-Egyptian government spies when the action moves to Europe and the Middle East. At the end of the road is the Islamic State in the Levant, known as ISIL or ISIS, the most heinous of the nonstate terrorists. The threats feel very real. The plotting and writing throughout are taut and the stakes are very high. Not only are individual lives in peril, but plans are laid for massive attacks and enormous security breaches. Sales of submarines, Strontium-90 (a component of diabolical “dirty bombs”), and shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles are all part of the high-level negotiations. Also mixed into the nefarious loot are massive amounts of heroin and three small, but priceless, Vermeer paintings. The book could benefit from moderating some of the villains for more impact; Malakhov’s gambit, for example, when approaching Provati is to threaten his close friend and employee: “Well, just so you know, if you cross me again I’ll rape her in front of you. I’ll parade in my men, and they’ll do her three at a time while you watch, then I’ll slit her throat. Your death will be neither slow nor easy.” Provati is an unlikely, intemperate hero but an enjoyable one.
A roller-coaster ride to the finish, this book confirms Giordano as a writer to eagerly watch.