A talented Italian American businessman is tempted by an alliance with Mafia-connected figures in Rea’s debut novel.
Stefano Caruso spearheaded the successful international expansion of the automotive manufacturing company founded by his father. Since then, he’s been setting his sights even higher, diversifying his investments into horse racing, real estate, tech startups, and oil. He’s ambitious and unafraid of risk, but his life takes an unexpected turn when his long-term business partner Vincent sets up a meeting with a mysterious man who introduces himself only as Daniel. The stranger warns Caruso of corruption and embezzlement within his own company, and he sets up a meeting between Caruso and Benito Cuggi, an old Mafia boss who now runs a vast, legitimate business empire. Cuggi offers to help Caruso ferret out the thieves in his company, but Caruso struggles with the fact that his family had previously vowed to steer clear of Mafia violence. While mulling over what to do, Caruso flies to Mexico to personally inspect his factories near the U.S.–Mexico border for signs of corruption; then, he orchestrates high-stakes deals between Chinese and German auto industry titans. He later meets a beautiful horse trainer named Arianna Rosetti—a woman unlike anyone he’s ever met. Readers of Rea’s novel will likely be able to predict the outcomes of Caruso’s business negotiations and personal decisions, but they’ll still find them to be highly entertaining. Along the way, the author also shows how Caruso’s feelings for Arianna further complicate the high-stakes corruption investigation. The prose sometimes includes broad stylistic flourishes; for example, here’s Rea’s description of Daniel when Caruso first meets him: “His hair was short, black, and curled like the waves against Amalfi’s stony cliffs.” For the most part, though, the author has a straightforward style that effectively propels the story forward.
A well-paced mob thriller that immerses the reader in a dangerous world.