THE LAST DON by Mario Puzo
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Puzo's seventh novel, a monstrously gripping quasisequel to 1969's The Godfather, flavors itself with none of the Corleones so dear to fans of that earlier potboiler but does simmer the same Sicilian marinara, using a more literate recipe. From its Long Island compound, the Clericuzio family, ruled by the twistedly wise Great White Shark Domenico Clericuzio, dominates the nation's Mafia but longs to go legit. For over 30 years, old Domenico has urged the Clericuzios toward fading namelessly into the nation's fabric, into restaurants, construction companies, and legalized gambling. He has given up drugs as operationally too unwieldy, and now seeks nationwide legalized gambling. Peace has reigned since Domenico's young nephew, Pippi De Lena, wiped out the brutal Santadio family in one bloody evening. But Sicilian vengeance knows no time limit, and one shadowy figure remains of mixed Santadio-Clericuzio blood who now seeks payment and rulership of the Clericuzios. Puzo divides his novel mainly into scenes set on Long Island, in Las Vegas, and Hollywood. Pippi runs Xanadu, the crown jewel of Las Vegas casinos, aided by his son Croccifixio, known as Cross. When Cross finds himself stunned by the beauty of Hollywood's leading actress, Athena Aquitane, he decides to help quell her fear of her acid-slinging ex-husband. Athena departs LoddStone Studios, where she's filming the $100M epic Messalina, and goes into hiding until the threat is removed. To get his foot into the legit film industry, Cross buys the unfinished picture from Loddstone, and quickly, permanently resolves Athena's marital problems. After his father Pippi is murdered, Cross sets out to avenge him. But Cross's instincts tell him that old Domenico may be behind his own nephew's murder. Cross, caught between Scylla and Charybdis, may have to go against his own blood if he is to have revenge. Fabulously well-plotted; drunk on luxury.
Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-679-40143-1
Page count: 496pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1996


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