A refreshing rethink of the archetypal mafia novel.

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Birds of Passage

AN ITALIAN IMMIGRANT COMING OF AGE STORY

This riveting debut novel by Giordano charts the passage of two young Italian men to early twentieth century New York, as they strive to make their mark in the New World.

Leonardo has a strong sense of rectitude, and respect for his family, yet a life in Naples, for him, signals a life wasted. Hugging farewell to his tearful mother, he boards the steamship Prinzessin Irene, bound for Ellis Island, New York. Carlo, meanwhile is the son of the powerful Don Salvatore Mazzi, who flees to America to avoid being arrested for murder. Arriving in the great metropolis, they soon become all too aware how Italians are the target of brutal discrimination. One passerby remarks: “Did you get a whiff of that? Italians from down in the boot reek of garlic and body odor.” [103] In a city that appears to have pitted itself against them, the men must fight for recognition. Leonardo seeks an honest path, vying for work in the dockyards among the Irish, who despite being marginalized themselves, reject Italians as subhuman. Carlo meanwhile becomes involved in a counterfeiting scam which goes horribly wrong. The two men’s paths finally cross when they share lodgings and fall in love with the same woman, the beautiful and enigmatic Azzura Medina. The novel demonstrates how the rapacious nature of big city life, and machinations of the criminal underworld rapidly shapes and distorts the new arrivals’ characters. A sense desperation and viciousness is palpable: “Carlo withdrew the knife and dug it into Shippen’s chest. Shippen’s eyes bulged. He squirmed. Carlo withdrew the knife and raised it to stab again. Shippen made a choking sound. His eyes dulled, and he stopped struggling”. [112] Yet, the novel is held together by a carefully structured plot that does not rely merely on gratuitous violence. The psychological development of Leonardo and Carlo is fascinating, although the author may slightly neglect describing the outer appearance of his characters in detail. Part thriller, part love story, part coming-of-age narrative, this book’s appeal reaches successfully beyond the often restrictive confines of its genre.

A refreshing rethink of the archetypal mafia novel.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-941861-08-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harvard Square Editions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 11, 2015

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Another success for the publishing phenom.

UNDER CURRENTS

An abused boy fights back, escapes, then returns as an attorney to his beloved hometown, but just as he’s falling in love with a transplanted landscaper, a series of attacks from shadowy enemies jeopardizes their happiness.

“From the outside, the house in Lakeview Terrace looked perfect.” Which of course means that it wasn't. We're introduced to the horrifying Dr. Graham Bigelow, who beats his wife and, increasingly as the boy gets older, his son, Zane. On the night of Zane’s prom, a particularly savage attack puts him and his sister in the hospital, and his father blames Zane, landing him in jail. Then his sister stands up for him, enlisting the aid of their aunt, and everything changes, mainly due to Zane’s secret diaries. Nearly 20 years later, Zane leaves a successful career as a lawyer to return to Lakeview, where his aunt and sister live with their families, deciding to hang a shingle as a small-town lawyer. Then he meets Darby McCray, the landscaper who’s recently relocated and taken the town by storm, starting with the transformation of his family’s rental bungalows. The two are instantly intrigued by each other, but they move slowly into a relationship neither is looking for. Darby has a violent past of her own, so she is more than willing to take on the risk of antagonizing a boorish local family when she and Zane help an abused wife. Suddenly Zane and Darby face one attack after another, and even as they grow ever closer under the pressure, the dangers become more insidious. Roberts’ latest title feels a little long and the story is slightly cumbersome, but her greatest strength is in making the reader feel connected to her characters, so “unnecessary details” can also charm and engage.

Another success for the publishing phenom.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-20709-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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A romantic suspense that skillfully balances both elements.

THE DECEPTION

A successful businesswoman hires a smooth-talking bounty hunter to find a lead on her sister’s murder.

Kate Gallagher was the only one available to identify her younger sister Chrissy’s body after she was found dead, having run away from home two years earlier. Since Chrissy succumbed to drugs and turned to sex work to survive, her murder isn't taken seriously by the local homicide department. Kate is filled with grief and regret at not having been there for her sister, and she’s determined to find her killer as a kind of penance. Jason Maddox is the charming man Kate almost hooked up with at a local bar. He also happens to be on the payroll of the most successful investigation company in Dallas. He’s all too eager to help Kate out and spend more time getting to know the blonde he danced with at the Sagebrush Saloon. At first, Kate and Jason vow to keep things professional until the case is solved; there’s obvious attraction that they’re willing to pursue at a later date. But the increasing sense of danger mixed with Kate and Jason’s close proximity proves to be too heady of a combination. The tension never lets up as the pair visit seedy bars and interrogate unsavory characters. With a steamy romance and undeniably hot chemistry, the main characters are well matched. They’re both driven, slightly stubborn, and enjoy the adrenaline rush of catching criminals. Martin (The Conspiracy, 2019, etc.) doesn’t skimp on graphic, violent details as Chrissy’s murder leads her couple to something much bigger: human trafficking. Though not for the faint of heart given its weighty material, this is an un-put-down-able page-turner that’s sure to satisfy fans of romance and thrillers alike.

A romantic suspense that skillfully balances both elements.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-335-00769-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harlequin HQN

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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