While chatting with fellow author Shelley Blanton-Stroud (grab her free book, COPY BOY) for an upcoming episode of Mystery Crew Reviews, she asked if my villainous great-grandfather was the impetus for my love of mystery.

“No,” I replied, because I was well into my second career as an author by the time the family found out about his crime. (FYI-in 1912, my great-grandfather shot and killed his wife and another man, evaded a police manhunt, and was never seen again.)

Related: The Amato Family Murder Mystery

Instead, perhaps the award for encouraging my love of mystery goes to the murderer’s son-in-law, my maternal grandfather, Joseph Sestito. Apart from his stories about being a deputy sheriff during Prohibition, which inspired the Galliano Club historical fiction thriller series, he once put me in jail.

For many years he was City Marshal of Rome, NY, meaning that he delivered summonses to appear in court, claims notices, and liens on wages and property, all of which he recorded in ledgers I now have.

Vintage city marshal ledgers

My grandfather’s ledgers, kept while City Marshal of Rome, NY.


Vintage ledger page

Every transaction was recorded, along with the fee he earned. The heading reads “Summons” which meant a summons to appear in city court.


My grandparents circa 1960

My grandparents Ann and Joe, about the time he was City Marshal of Rome, NY.

I was 4 or 5 when he brought me to Rome’s brand-new police station, parked me in a cell, and locked me in. He and his cop buddies had a chuckle at the curly-haired tyke behind bars before turning to business.

I recall investigating the spartan cell and getting bored. But I also recall the positive impression made by my grandfather and his law enforcement colleagues. Badges. Camaraderie. A sense of purpose. Problem-solving.

Well, they’d certainly solved the problem of babysitting.

P.S. All of the Galliano Club books are now available! A heartfelt thank you to reviewers like fellow mystery author Suzanne Baginski who wrote, “Brilliantly crafted, I highly recommend this gritty historical thriller. From the first page to the last, Murder at the Galliano Club is one terrific read.”

4 Galliano Club covers

Click to order on Amazon

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