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THE GODFATHER’S REVENGE by Mark Winegardner Kirkus Star

THE GODFATHER’S REVENGE

By Mark Winegardner

Pub Date: Nov. 7th, 2006
ISBN: 0-399-15384-5
Publisher: Putnam

Faux Kennedy brothers, elaborate detailings of byzantine Cosa Nostra politics, steamy pulp-fiction prose, a hot murder mystery and a cartoonishly epic cast make this Godfather installment a worthy addition to the chronicle of la famigilia Corleone.

They’re baaaaack—dour Machiavellian Michael and long-suffering Connie, tight-lipped, anxiety-prone Irish consigliere Tom Hagen, even poor Michael-murdered Fredo, appearing now as a tuxedo-wearing ghost bearing a fishing rod and squeezing a naked dame. Winegardner (That’s True of Everybody, 2002, etc.) breathlessly re-animates these archetypes even more effectively than he did in 2004’s The Godfather Returns. Revenge pits Nick Gerasi, turncoat former Corleone caporegime emerging from exile in a bomb shelter beneath Lake Erie, against Michael in a mano-a-mano bloodfeud. Gerasi’s an old-school gangster, miffed at the Godfather’s efforts to go legit. And Michael has other hellhounds on his trail. There’s Attorney General Danny Shea, kid brother of philandering Jimmy, the U.S. president Michael finagled into office by means of Hagen’s chicanery and a charm offensive by Sinatra-like Corleone flunky Johnny Fontane. Danny’s dream is to enter history as the Mob-slayer, and while Michael merely wants to neutralize the threat, rival crime boss Carlo Tramonti, Don of the Big Easy, aims at actually offing Jimmy. At a pasta-mad powwow for the head honchos of all the underworld’s Five Families, Carlo advances the assassination plot, only to be interrupted as police crash in to nab Tom Hagen. Turns out his mistress, hard-case blonde bombshell Judy Buchanan, has been shot in the head and Hagen’s soon held for questioning. Winegardner’s deft plot-spinning is rivaled only by his sure grasp of Goodfella mise-en-scène, the profanity-laced witticisms, the fashion fetishizing, the cool, long, dark ’60s Chevy Biscaynes. Minor characters, from upstart Eddie Paradise to the musically monickered Ottilio Cuneo and Osvaldo Atobello, add varnish to inch-thick operatic mobster atmosphere.

Bloody and bombastic—a top-notch addition to the saga.