Michael Cordelone, exiled to Sicily at the end of Mario Puzo’s novel The Godfather, is about to return to the US at the beginning of The Sicilian.
His father has ordered Michael to bring Salvatore “Turi” Guiliano to America with him.
Turi has been a bandit in the Robin Hood tradition since his teens. He is idolized by the poor for his opposition those who keep them poor: the government in Rome, the Mafia, the Catholic Church hierarchy, the police.
For seven years, Turi and his band have lived in the mountains, from which they raid and escape. Now Turi’s enemies seem to be joining forces against him.
Why does his father want Michael to help Turi?
How are the police and army getting information about Turi’s movements?
Can Michael get Turi out of the country before his enemies kill him?
Turi and the other characters are about as plausible as paper dolls.
There are a few tidbits of interesting Italian history in The Sicilian but the story is a bore.
Just as he did in Fools Die, his second attempt to recreate the success of The Godfather, in The Sicilian Mario Puzo produces an entirely forgettable novel.
The Sicilian: a novel by Mario Puzo
Linden Press/Simon & Schuster. 1984. 410 p.
1984 bestseller #3. My grade: B-
Norvin Blake arrives in Sicily in 1886 for the wedding of his best friend, Martel Savigno, who is a Mafia target. When assassins ambush them on the eve of the wedding, Norvin is unable to save Martel and his overseerer. Margherita is widowed before she is wed.
Norvin is called home his dying mother. Margherita and her companion, Lucretzia, have left Sicily and disappeared in New York City before Norvin gets his mother’s affairs settled in New Orleans.
Norvin enters the family cotton business. Mindful of his cowardice during the ambush, he trains himself to behave courageously.
When Sheriff Donnelly gets letters about Mafia activity in New Orleans, he recruits Norvin to help root it out. When Donnelly is murdered, Norvin takes over the chase personally.
Rex Beach lets readers enjoy seeing their predictions of the plot realized, then destroys their expectations in an astounding American version of Mafia mentality.
Beach ties up the story neatly, leaving nothing but the definition of justice unsettled.