Lorenzo Carcaterra is the author of the memoir A Safe Place, Apaches, and the New York Times bestseller Sleepers. He has written scripts for movies and television and is currently at work on his next novel.
Covering a span of 90 years, Carcaterra (Sleepers) spins a dry and somewhat predictable tale of two generations of a Mob "family." Boss Angelo Vestieri lies dying in a hospital bed with two visitors by his side. One is Gabe, a man who as a child had been befriended and ultimately raised by Angelo. The other is Mary, initially introduced as a mysterious woman from Angelo's past who has come to witness his death. Through their recollections, we learn first of Angelo's rise from street urchin to boss, then of the development of his relationship with Gabe. By the novel's end, the ties among all three have been neatly explained, providing excellent closure to the story. What prevents the book from becoming truly compelling is the triteness of its characters, who seem to lack complexity in their behavior and who evoke no sympathy from the reader. Despite its shortcomings, Carcaterra's latest should still move in public libraries, especially among readers who enjoy gangster novels and also because it is scheduled to be a four-hour ABC minseries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/00.]ÄCraig L. Shufelt, Gladwin Cty. Lib., MI Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
"I was now well-prepared to be a career criminal... I just didn't have the stomach for any of it." Carcaterra's latest crime novel is the tantalizing coming-of-age story of orphan Gabe, groomed by longtime New York City mob boss Angelo Vestieri to be his successor. The novel opens in the 1990s as Gabe, now middle-aged, keeps watch over Vestieri on his hospital deathbed. Slipping back in time to the Depression, the narrative tracks the rise of the famed mob boss from Italian immigrant to lord of Manhattan's underworld, when Gabe, 10, walks into Vestieri's bar after running out on his latest foster parents in 1964. Vestieri takes the impressionable boy under his wing and ushers him into the world of organized crime. Gabe runs numbers, collects debts and learns loyalty and the price of betrayal. Yet when the time comes for Gabe to take over the operation, he refuses, choosing a normal life despite his deep love for Vestieri. As he did in Sleepers and Apaches, Carcaterra shows dexterity in humanizing the denizens of the urban underbelly. Through a fine characterization of the enigmatic Vestieri, he provides a stirring perspective on the ways of mobsters and their history. Yet the book's central theme, the complex choice facing Gabe, is poorly developed, rarely penetrating the surface of his rejection of gang life. Carcaterra's portrayal focuses primarily on violence as the source of Gabe's revulsion, only touching on Gabe's understanding of how mobstersÄthrough fear and corruptionÄinfluence society in much deeper ways. (Feb. 1) Forecast: From its bold title and catchy cover to the publisher's plans for major ad/promo, including a six-city author tour, this novel promises to perform. Its major push, though, will come down the road, from a four-hour ABC miniseries already in the works. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.