Saturday, February 5, 2011

Cosa Nostra by Joseph Orbi

Published by I.O. Twomey Ltd.

The story begins in the present, but then switches back to introduce the reader to the characters. Joseph Orbi is a very descriptive author. His descriptions of the scenes, the characters, and the blossoming of love between two cousins Enrico, 13 and Franco,15, are palpable. All these parts set the tone and place of the whole, although the book itself is more dialogue driven than narrated. Of the two boys, one is timid, a lover of all beauty and music, opera in particular, and is the main character. The other is tough, in control of emotion, the son of a Don.

Fast forward to the present, some 30-40 years later. Both cousins have aged and married although Frank's wife has passed away. He is now a Don. Enrico is a Maestro, producing operas. He is also married. The men have not seen each other for a number of years, and Frank invites Enrico and his daughter to dine at home with Frank and his son, a lawyer.

By this time, the Maestro is a completely flamboyant and over the top character. He refers to his wife as Medea and is desperate to be free of her. It is in this part of the book that the plot turns more to black humor, in fact it seems to sneak up on the reader with sudden realization that the story is not quite what you thought you were reading at the beginning. It also holds your attention as it builds up in tension. Two deaths occur, and another unique character appears, Captain Picol, Chief of Detectives. Are the deaths accidental or are they orchestrated murder? The detective is sure it is murder and is determined to prove it. But is there anything to prove?

While the inspector is working to make a case, an additional plot line is the story becomes almost ludicrous, and I don't mean that as a criticism. The writing is intentional and the final chapter left me laughing. An unusual story, but interesting.

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