New Release! Road to the Galliano Club

New Release! Road to the Galliano Club

ROAD TO THE GALLIANO CLUB, prequel to the Galliano Club historical thriller series, is available now in Kindle and paperback formats.

The Galliano Club historical thriller series has been in the works for over a year, with excerpts doled out in the Mystery Ahead newsletter every other Sunday, so it’s a fantastic feeling to finally share Book 1 with readers! The setting is Lido, New York, a small city in upstate New York, but before the three main characters arrive there, hard luck forces each to strike out on their own.

All journeys end at the Galliano Club, of course, where trouble has just begun.

Road to the Galliano Club

Meet the main characters

RUTH CROSS: After escaping a dead-end Pennsylvania coal mining town, Ruth fulfills her dreams of dancing on Broadway, but is tripped up by a ruined reputation and prison time. Opening a dancing school above the Galliano Club is key to reinventing her life, but can the club be the sanctuary she needs?

LUCA LOMBARDO: From a bitter upbringing in Italy to the heartbreaking death of his wife and child in a New York City tenement, Luca loses everything he’s ever cared about. The Galliano Club is the one exception. It’s the home he never had. Nothing and no one is going to take it away.

BENNY ROTOLO: A member of Chicago’s violent North Side gang, Benny learns how to succeed in the crime business until the day he’s chased out of town by Al Capone. Determined to build his own bootlegging empire, he wants to seize the Galliano Club and turn it into the finest speakeasy north of Manhattan.

The Galliano Club

Galliano Club sketch

The Galliano Club anchors the growing Italian immigrant community in Lido, New York. After long days building America’s skyscrapers, ships, and electrical grid, thirsty mill workers head to the club to play cards, argue over the news, and drink the beer hidden in the cellar. It’s a comfortable place where no one is ready for the coming storm of murder, blackmail, and revenge.

This sketch of the building is a composite of buildings in the historically Italian section of my hometown of Rome, New York. Several bear the name of the owner/builder just below the roofline. V. Spinelli is Vito Spinelli, the owner of the Galliano Club series. He parks his Packard in the alley behind the building.

Vito’s taste for illegal whiskey, to help drown his grief at the loss of his son in World War I, means that all the work falls to Luca.

The door on the right is the club entrance. The door on the left opens directly to stairs leading up. Ruth’s apartment, as well as her school of dance, are on the second floor.

The architecture, similar to the layout of many duplex buildings in upstate New York, plays a role in how a deadly crime plays out in Book 2, MURDER AT THE GALLIANO CLUB.

Research

America’s growing pains during the early 20th century provide a vibrant backdrop for the series. New immigrants file through Ellis Island as George M. Cohan lights up Broadway, Sacco and Vanzetti go on trial, women swoon over Rudolph Valentino’s The Sheik, Chicago gangsters shoot to kill, skyscrapers sprout from cement and sweat, and the first flight over the North Pole is celebrated around the world.

Researching the Galliano series was hugely satisfying. For example, I learned that there’s only 2 degrees of separation between me and Buster Keaton. His two sons were both in the OSS during World War II and I was in the CIA, the successor to the OSS.

There’s a personal connection to legendary Broadway performer, writer, and producer George M. Cohan, too.  I was in the musical George M! about Cohan’s life and still know all the words to Give My Regards to Broadway, so of course his shows launch dancer Ruth Cross on the ROAD TO THE GALLIANO CLUB.

Also I saw Donny Osmond in the revival of Cohan classic Little Johnny Jones but we’ll save that for a rainy day.

Get your copy of ROAD TO THE GALLIANO CLUB today!

historical mystery series Road to the Galliano Club

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Book Review: SHARPE’S ASSASSIN by Bernard Cornwell

Book Review: SHARPE’S ASSASSIN by Bernard Cornwell

First off, let me confess that I’m such a fan of the Richard Sharpe historical thriller series that we own ALL of the Sharpe television episodes starring Sean Bean (on video) AND the Sharpe board game which is like Risk but cooler.

sharpe board game

So I was thrilled that Bernard Cornwell published SHARPE’S ASSASSIN in 2021, which puts a final coda on the amazing career of his fictional British soldier. The first book, SHARPE’S EAGLE, came out in 1981 and introduced Richard Sharpe, a rifleman in His Majesty’s Army during the Napoleonic Wars who is promoted into the officer ranks for gallantry in battle. 25 books later, Sharpe is fighting Napoleon’s last gasp with the same fantastic period details, historical lessons, and memorable characters that have entertained (and educated) millions.

In SHARPE’S ASSASSIN, Napoleon has been defeated at Waterloo, but the wily ex-Emperor remains at large. Remnants of the French army fight on against a coalition of British and Prussian forces. Now a lieutenant colonel, Sharpe’s battalion was mauled during the fighting at Waterloo. Indeed, the story begins as Sharpe and ever-faithful sergeant Patrick Harper are burying long-time friend Dan Hagman.

Summoned to the headquarters of the Duke of Wellington, Sharpe is given an unorthodox new assignment.

He must capture a citadel in a town that has yet to surrender, in order to rescue an important prisoner held by the French. It’s a fool’s errand but the prisoner has information about a cohort of fanatical Frenchmen called la Fraternité determined to carry out assassinations and restore Napoleon to power. Wellington himself is in the groups’ crosshairs.

As in every Sharpe book, the action is breathtaking with great imagery, perfect pacing, and a sense of big things at stake. Sharpe doesn’t come through these skirmishes unscathed; we can almost smell the blood and choke on the dust, feel our arm weighted by the heavy sword and shudder from the recoil of the rifle as the leather-wrapped ball sings through the air.

What I loved about SHARPE’S ASSASSIN is the way Sharpe’s entire career is referenced, as well as his uncertain birth, which allows us to relive his major exploits and the battles he so narrowly survived. This goes back to when he was flogged–before being promoted to an officer–and the way in which Sharpe gets his revenge is supremely delicious.

His romances are there, too. (Let’s face it, Sharpe was hardly celibate as he marched from Portugal to Belgium.)

But what makes this final Sharpe adventure so outstanding is that Sharpe has finally met his match in a French officer whose reputation for fearlessness and victory in battle matches his own. It was the perfect way for the series to come full circle, only deepening my belief that Bernard Cornwell has no equal as a storyteller.

Carmen Amato at Spring Hill

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