Mario Puzo was born in New York and, following military service in World War II, attended New York's New School for Social Research and Columbia University. His bestselling novel The Godfather was preceded by two critically acclaimed novels, The Dark Arena and The Fortunate Pilgrim. In 1978, he published Fools Die, followed by The Sicilian, The Fourth K, and the second installment in his Mafia trilogy, The Last Don. Mario Puzo also wrote many screenplays, including those for Earthquake, Superman, and all three Godfather movies, for which he received two Academy Awards. He died in July 1999 at his home on Long Island, New York, at the age of seventy-eight, just after completing the manuscript of Omerta.
The charismatic and expertly paced performance of veteran narrator Joe Mantegna enhances this fast-moving abridgment of the final installment of Puzo's Mafia trilogy. After his adopted uncle Don Aprile is assassinated, Astorre Viola must balance his promise to protect Aprile's three children and the family's legitimate banking business with his desire for revenge. As Astorre puts his plan to protect the family into place, he must contend with the FBI, the New York Police Department, and members of rival Mafia families who all want a piece of the Aprile pie. While certainly a fast-paced suspense novel, the story is also a commentary about how Old World values like respect and omerta (a code of honor) suffer in today's rapid-fire, globalized economy. Engaging with its colorful characters and satisfying plot, this is an excellent choice for all contemporary fiction collections.ÄBeth Farrell, Portage Cty. Dist., Lib., OH Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
"The dead have no friends," says one gangster to another in Puzo's final novel, as they plot to kill America's top Mafioso. But Puzo, despite his death last year at age 78, should gain many new friends for this operatic thriller, his most absorbing since The Sicilian. The slain mobster is the elderly Don Raymonde Aprile. His heirs, around whom the violent, vastly emotional narrative swirls, are his three children and one nephew. It's the nephew, Astorre Viola, who inherits the Don's legacy and transforms before his cousins' astonished eyes from a foppish playboy into a Man of Honor, as he avenges the Don's death and protects his family from those hungry for its prime possession: banks that will earn legitimate billions in the years ahead. Astorre's change is no surprise to the few aged mobsters who know that, as a youth, he was trained to be a Qualified Man, or to the fewer still who knowDas Astorre does notDthat his real father was a great Sicilian Mafioso. Arrayed against Astorre in his pursuit of cruel justice are some of the sharpest Puzo characters ever, among them a corrupt and beautiful black New York policewoman; assassin twins; wiseguys galore, including a drug lord who seeks his own nuclear weapon; and, drawn in impressive shades of gray, a veteran FBI agent who imperils his family and his soul to destroy Astorre. Despite its familiar subject matter, the novelDwhich shuttles among Sicily, England and AmericaDis unpredictable and bracing, but its greatest strength is Puzo's voice, ripe with age and wisdom, as attentive to the scent of lemons and oranges in a Sicilian garden as to a good man's sudden, bloody death. This is pulp raised to art and a worthy memorial to the author, who one last time makes readers an offer they can't refuse. 500,000 first printing; simultaneous Random House audio and large print editions; to be a film from Miramax. (July) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
"[A] deft and passionate last novel by the Balzac of the
"A SPLENDID PIECE OF CRIME FICTION . . . A FITTING CAP TO A TREMENDOUS CAREER . . . Through it all, Puzo keeps the heat on and keeps the reader enthralled with his characters and his story."
--The Denver Post