Welcome to another edition of the Mystery Ahead newsletter, with fresh #booknews, thrilling #excerpts, and #reviews of must-read mysteries.
Need to subscribe? CLICK HERE.
1. One beer, coming up
A new website page about the GALLIANO CLUB books is on tap, with descriptions of all 3 books and historical images from the city that inspired the Prohibition-era series.
Find it here: https://carmenamato.net/galliano-club-series
Set in 1926, the series takes you to a mill town in upstate New York during Prohibition. Gangsters, bootleggers, murder, love, and jealousy shake the foundations of the Galliano Club, a hangout for Italian mill workers.
The fictional upstate town of Lido, New York, is based on my hometown of Rome, New York. My late grandfather’s experiences as Deputy Sheriff of Oneida County and my mother’s childhood tales underpin the books.
2. Great book deals x 2
While you wait for the GALLIANO CLUB books, my author friends are filling the gap with great deals on new reads!
– DEAD SILENT features books by 18 mystery authors in one GIANT box set for Kindle readers. Dan Petrosini, Fiona Quinn, J.D. Weston and more are included. The introductory price is only $0.99! I don’t know how long that price will last. https://geni.us/silent
In the upcoming GALLIANO CLUB series, Benny Rotolo is a Chicago hitman who ran afoul of Al Capone and fled to the relative safety of Lido, New York. His breakfast is interrupted by a blabbermouth with information to sell.
“Mr. Rotolo?” One of Lido’s local yokels stood by Benny’s booth. A real cafone, from the smell of cow dung that clung to him.
“You know who I am?” Benny grunted.
“Sure, you’re Benny Rotolo, the big wheel from Chicago.” The farmer twisted a tweed cap between his hands.
“Sure, that’s right.” Benny took a second look at the cafone. Wool jacket, dungarees, old-fashioned moustache on a head like a pumpkin, but Benny liked his attitude. Real respectful-like.
“I’m Al Genovese,” the fella said. “I’ve got a farm on Bell Road. Biggest in the county.”
Benny swallowed some coffee. “You selling eggs or what?”
“Information,” Genovese said. “The kind of information someone like you might find useful.”
“Someone like me?” Benny wasn’t sure if he liked the implication or not.
“Someone with street smarts,” Genovese hastened to clarify.
Benny gave Genovese a hard look but the fella didn’t wilt. “Okay,” Benny said. “Have a seat.”
Genovese slid into the booth across from Benny. The waiter came by with the coffeepot, but a scowl sent him scurrying away.
“So what’s the scoop?” Benny asked when the waiter was out of earshot.
“The newspaper’s wrong,” Genovese said, with a meaningful glance at the pages on the table. “The story about Nick Procopio dumping Jimmy Destito in the river. He didn’t do it.”
“Yeah, says who,” Benny said, ready for some scam.
“The night Jimmy Destito went missing, I saw Vito Bottini’s Chrysler drive down to the riverbank,” Genovese said, lowering his voice. “Bottini owns the Galliano Club. I think Bottini and his barman Luca Lombardo put Destito in the river.”
More about the forthcoming GALLIANO CLUB series here: https://carmenamato.net/galliano-club-series
SNOW by John Banville
This book got a hearty endorsement from several hard-core mystery reader friends and it lived up to expectations in every way except one.
1957. It’s a freezing, snowy winter in Ireland. Detective St. John (pronounced Sinjun as he takes pains to note) Strafford is sent to the country home of the Osborne family to investigate the murder of a visiting Catholic priest.
It’s quickly apparent that this is a locked room mystery. Someone in this highly dysfunctional family must be the villain.
Ireland’s troubled religious history and enduring divisions are on full display. The family is Protestant, as is Strafford, but the priest was an avid horseman and hunter who was great pals with the dad, a retired military man.
Of course, the all powerful archbishop in Dublin wants everything hushed up. Strafford is caught between the powerful Catholic Church, a long-suffering boss in the police department, and his own notions of justice.
Everyone in the family qualifies as a suspect. The lady of the house is an addict who seduces Strafford, the son and daughter dislike parents and ancestral home, and the father might have murdered his first wife. No one seems terribly upset about the dead priest in the library.
The author’s sense of time and place is excellent. The writing is superb, with descriptions that lure us into this cold, murky winter investigation.
Strafford makes keen observations about the family as they drift through the investigation like actors on a stage fulfilling typecast roles. The author cleverly makes Strafford an actor on the stage, too.
He’s the second lead who creates ripples that are resolved in Act III but isn’t enough of a presence that we remember the actor’s name after the curtain falls. Strafford is still finding his way, still unsure of what he wants out of life, and that makes him an enigmatic officer of the law.
SNOW has the same vibe as the tv series Endeavour, about the young Inspector Morse. If SNOW is ever made into a movie, actor Shaun Evans would make the perfect St. John Strafford. More about the tv series on imdb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2701582/
Given the quality of writing, my one complaint about SNOW was that the motive was sadly unimaginative. Basically, we’ve seen this before. Or maybe I have just read too many mystery novels.
Find SNOW on Amazon
Want to get the Mystery Ahead newsletter in your inbox? CLICK HERE.
List of Carmen’s books
Carmen on Facebook
all the best,