Mario Puzo spent the last three years of his life writing Omerta, the concluding installment in
his saga about power and morality in America. In The Godfather, he introduced us to the Corleones. In The Last Don, he told the wicked tale of
the Clericuzios. In Omerta, Puzo chronicles the
affairs of the Apriles, a family on the brink of legitimacy in a world of criminals.
Don Raymonde Aprile is an old man wily enough to retire
gracefully from organized crime after a lifetime of ruthless conquest. Having
kept his three children at a distance, he’s ensured that they are now
respectable members of the establishment: Valerius is an army colonel who
teaches at West Point, Marcantonio is an influential TV network executive, and
Nicole is a corporate litigator with a weakness for pro bono cases to fight the
death penalty. To protect them from harm, and to maintain his entrée into the
legitimate world of international banking, Don Aprile has adopted a
"nephew" from Sicily, Astorre Viola, whose legal guardian made the
unfortunate decision to commit suicide in the trunk of a car. Astorre is an
unlikely enforcer—a macaroni importer with a fondness for riding stallions and
recording Italian ballads with his band.
Though Don Aprile’s retirement is seen as a business
opportunity by his last Mafia rival, Timmona Portella, it is viewed with
suspicion by Kurt Cilke, the FBI's special agent in charge of investigating
organized crime. Cilke has achieved remarkable success in breaking down the
bonds between families, cultivating high-ranking sources who in return for
federal protection have violated omerta—Sicilian for “code of silence,” the vow
among men of honor that, until recently, kept them from betraying their secrets
to the authorities.
As Cilke and the FBI mount their campaign to wipe out the
Mafia once and for all, Astorre Viola and the Apriles find themselves in the
midst of one last war, a conflict in which it is hard to distinguish who, if
anyone, is on the right side of the law, and whether mercy or vengeance is the
best course of action.
Rich with suspense, dark humor, and the larger-than-life
characters who have turned Mario Puzo’s novels into modern myths, Omerta
is a powerful epitaph for the Mafia at the turn of a new century, and a final
triumph for a great American storyteller.
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