Press release: Four-book Galliano Club series by Carmen Amato is a must-read for fans of The Godfather, The Untouchables and Boardwalk Empire.
The press release just went out!
It’s a combination new release announcement and series wrap-up.
All 4 books in the Galliano Club historical fiction series are available as Kindle ebook and paperback editions. Large-print editions will be released later this year.
Get a ringside seat for the epic battle over a bootleg beer racket between a Chicago mobster and an Italian immigrant in 1926.
Chased out of Chicago by Al Capone, hitman Benny Rotolo flees to Lido, NY on the banks of the Mohawk River to build his own bootlegging empire. He plans to seize the Galliano Club, a neighborhood hangout for Italian mill workers, and remake it into a speakeasy to rival Capone’s fabled Four Deuces.
Luca Lombardo, manager of the club, won’t let it go without a fight. After passing through Ellis Island, he lost wife, child, and dreams of a better life. The Galliano Club and its close-knit community is all he has left.
Lido, New York. The year is 1926, Prohibition is in full swing.
Still smarting from the way he was run out of Chicago by Al Capone, bootlegger Benny Rotolo has a fresh scheme to seize the Galliano Club and turn the humble neighborhood club into the finest speakeasy north of Manhattan.
He’ll use the same tactics as the infamous La Mano Nera terror group that preys on successful Italian immigrants. Anonymous letters. Bullets. Fire.
Unaware of Benny’s plan, Galliano Club bartender Luca Lombardo is in the spotlight after surviving an attempted murder. What will happen when Luca’s darkest secrets are for sale?
Warning: Blackmail is contagious. Dancer Ruth Cross lives above the Galliano Club. A dirty cop knows her scandalous past and demands a high price for silence. If Luca can’t save her, who can?
When blackmail threatens everyone, murder isn’t far behind.
Are you a fan of The Godfather, The Untouchables, and Boardwalk Empire? The Galliano Club series is for you.
The 1920s come alive at the Galliano Club with an unforgettable cast of bootleggers, gangsters, and a flawed hero determined to break old rules and seize a new future.
Lido, New York isn’t a real place
As many of you know, the fictional city of Lido is based on my hometown of Rome, New York. Many of you have asked exactly where Lido might be, so here’s a useful map pointing to Lido’s fictional location, plus helpful silhouettes of the USA and New York to get your bearings.
I also discovered an exciting movement dedicated to preserving and celebrating Italian heritage. It’s not just all about food!
Here are 3 organizations that do it with style:
Italian Enclaves: The first ever pictorial catalogue of every Italian neighborhood and Italian national parish in the US. Rome is listed, of course. There is even a photo of the original Galliano Club.
BLACKMAIL AT THE GALLIANO CLUB is slated for release on 16 February 2023! The Galliano Club historical fiction thrillers take place in 1926, in a fictional upstate New York city modeled on my hometown of Rome, New York. BLACKMAIL is the second book in the series, following MURDER AT THE GALLIANO CLUB released late last year.
My grandfather was a deputy sheriff of Oneida County during Prohibition. His stories served as inspiration for the series.
Why the pivot away from the award-winning Detective Emilia Cruz series? While Emilia will always have a place in my heart (first female police detective in Acapulco and a most excellent liar) I needed a break from cartels and corruption during gloomy covid times.
Every week, someone will email me, asking about Emilia’s return to their Kindle/bookstore/library. The good news is that there is more Emilia ahead. No spoilers or overpromises right now, just general reassurance.
I thought that the Galliano Club books would be quick to write, but they proved the exact opposite, with multiple points of view and lots of historical research. I’m so thrilled to finally bring this wonderful world to readers.
Here’s a sneak peek at the very beginning of BLACKMAIL AT THE GALLIANO CLUB, available now to pre-order on Amazon.
Saint Rocco’s Catholic Church, guardian of the East Lido neighborhood, had never seen a funeral like this. The church was packed. Those who’d been unable to get a seat filled the side aisles and blocked the confessionals.
Jimmy Zambrano was finally being laid to rest.
He had been one of the leaders of the Italian community in East Lido. A devout Catholic, a family man, the long-serving foreman of the Lido Premium Copper and Brass rolling mill, and a murder victim whose body was found in the Mohawk River after weeks of fruitless searching.
Not only was all of East Lido there, but also those who otherwise would never step foot in the Italian enclave. Nathan Packham was there, the owner of Lido Premium, with Henry Blick, who was the mill’s all-powerful operations manager as well as Packham’s nephew and heir. Mayor John Peabody had given a short eulogy from the pulpit.
Only the Procopio family, including Nick Procopio’s bootlegger cousin, Benny Rotolo, was missing from the funeral. Whispers had swirled through East Lido before the service, but no one expected any of them to show.
After all, it was Nick Procopio, the deputy foreman at Lido Premium, who’d strangled the man they were there to mourn.
Half expecting a thunderbolt to arc over the altar and strike him dead for his sins, Luca Lombardo rose to his feet as the casket went by, held high on the shoulders of the pallbearers. The solemn-faced priest followed, swinging the smoking incense burner. Next came three acolytes, two with large candles and the one in the middle carrying a gold crucifix that was taller than the boy by more than an arm’s length.
The organ wailed out Ave Maria from the choir loft above. The music muffled the clanking of the censer and the last few involuntary sobs.
As the casket passed each pew, the mourners filed out and processed up the center aisle after it. Jimmy’s widow Carmella Zambrano and her children left the first pew, putting them directly behind the tall gold cross and guttering candles. Vito Spinelli, the owner of the Galliano Club and Luca’s boss, accompanied the dead man’s family.
The casket was carried through the double doors. The crowd streamed out and filled the wide steps of the church to watch the pallbearers load it into the hearse for the ride to Saint Rocco’s cemetery. There would be no internment. It was early November and the ground in upstate New York was already frozen. Jimmy would rest in the mausoleum until spring.
The mayor and the owner of Lido Premium murmured their sympathies to Carmella before leaving in their fancy automobiles. The pallbearers spoke to her next as she stood next to Vito with Sonny at her other side.
Vito’s soup-strainer mustache trembled with emotion as he turned to Luca. “Jimmy can rest in peace now.”
“That’s right, boss,” Luca said. “It’s over.”
“We’ll drink a toast, no?”
Luca nodded. The boss was looking for reassurance. “We all will.”
A members-only outfit, normally the Galliano Club was closed on Sunday. Tonight all the rules were out the window. Even women were invited.
A ripple of unease went through the crowd. A space opened in the middle. Carmella Zambrano stiffened. Vito said something that Luca didn’t catch.
Maria Teresa Procopio was on the sidewalk in front of the church, chin held high. The widow of the man who’d killed Jimmy had a reputation as a loud, bossy woman who matched her late husband in size and strength.
The sky was the color of raw iron as day faded to night, but enough light spilled from the open church door for Luca to see red eyes and lines of grief aging her face. Her dusky hair was scraped into a bun and a long black dress showed below the hem of her knee-length coat. Her hands were jammed into the coat pockets.
“On behalf of my children and myself,” she said to Carmella, loud enough for everyone on the church steps to hear. “I offer condolences for your loss. Your Jimmy, may his soul rest in peace, was a good man.”
“Thank you.” Carmella’s voice was surprisingly strong.
“That’s all I come to say.”
Maria Teresa’s gaze slid to Luca.
He touched the brim of his fedora in acknowledgment.
“Lucky Lombardo,” Maria Teresa said with ice in her voice.
Luca hated the nickname. The newspapers had dubbed him “Lucky Lombardo” for his narrow escape from Nick Procopio’s copper wire garrote. Only a last-minute intervention by Official Sean O’Malley had saved him.
“Everybody’s hero now.” Maria Teresa spat hard.
The gobbet landed in front of Luca. He didn’t move.
MURDER AT THE GALLIANO CLUB is now available in Kindle and paperback editions. The first novel in the Galliano Club thriller series debuted in the Number 2 spot on Amazon’s Italian Literature category. Thank you to so many early readers!
Join bootlegger Benny Rotolo and bartender Luca Lombardo as they battle for control of the Galliano Club, a hangout for Italian men in upstate New York in 1926. Beer is king and trouble is always on tap.
Are you a fan of The Godfather, Road to Perdition, The Untouchables, or Boardwalk Empire? If you love historical fiction featuring Prohibition-era stories of Chicago gangsters, Italian mobsters, and bold bootleggers, you’ll love MURDER AT THE GALLIANO CLUB, as well as ROAD TO THE GALLIANO CLUB, the prequel.
Why historical thrillers?
Many readers have asked why this pivot to historical thrillers after writing mysteries set in contemporary Mexico. The short answer is “pandemic.”
After writing so many books set in Mexico, including the award-winning Detective Emilia Cruz police series, the Galliano Club historical thriller series was a real switch for me. But in the midst of the pandemic, writing about cartels and corruption was emotionally tough.
Turning to family stories–my grandfather was a deputy sheriff during Prohibition–was both a challenge and a labor of love. My hometown of Rome, NY became Lido, NY. I incorporated many of my mother’s fading memories of growing up there. So much love went into this series, which you can read about here.
Seems I traded drug cartels and official corruption for bootleggers, blackmailers, and crooks. Go figure.
Get ready for an exciting trip to 1926!
Prohibition was at its height, with beer cooked up in illegal breweries, speedboats hauling liquor from the Bahamas to the East Coast, and Prohibition Bureau agents playing both sides of the law. Richard Byrd and Floyd Bennett claimed to fly over the North Pole but Charles Lindbergh wouldn’t cross the Atlantic until the next year. The Yankees lost the World Series when Babe Ruth was tagged out trying to steal a base. And that’s just for starters.
The Galliano Club thriller series has it all. Expect authentic details, unforgettable characters, layers of deception, and relationships with heat.
When I started in the midst of the pandemic, I didn’t realize where the Galliano Club would lead. Now I’ve met some wonderful historical fiction authors, reignited my love of research, reconnected to my Italian roots, and learned about my hometown which served as the inspiration for Lido, New York.
All because my grandfather told stories from when he was a deputy sheriff during Prohibition . . . and yes, I’ve written him into the series.
The Galliano Club is my first foray into historical fiction but it won’t be the last.
This project has truly been a gift.
While you wait
The prequel, ROAD TO THE GALLIANO CLUB is out now! Read the backstories of the unforgettable characters of the Galliano Club thrillers: bartender Luca Lombardo, dancer Ruth Cross and bootlegger Benny Rotolo.
From the mean streets of 1920’s Chicago, to a coal town in Pennsylvania, all the way to the a village in southern Italy, three roads converge at the Galliano Club, where trouble is always on tap.
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.
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
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.
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 TheSheik, 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.
It’s a limited time event, so grab your copies now.
RUSSIAN MOJITO is a real crime fiction cocktail! Here’s a bit of the Amazon description:
Driven to the edge by her own secrets, can the first female police detective in Acapulco give Russia a dose of Mexican justice?
Survivor of a deadly cartel ambush, Detective Emilia Cruz returns to Acapulco to recover from the trauma. Before she can catch her breath, however, her penniless stepfather is kidnapped by a ruthless gang.
At the same time, a Russian guest is murdered by a cold-blooded killer in the luxury hotel managed by her boyfriend, Kurt Rucker.
As the kidnappers terrorize Emilia’s family, more Russians are killed in a gun battle that rocks Acapulco. Emilia discovers a strange connection between the triple homicide and fuel thieves robbing Mexico’s underground gas pipelines.
Still coping with the emotional fallout from the ambush and a secret that could end her police detective career, Emilia finds herself on a midnight stakeout, watching and waiting for the fuel thieves. But she’s really on a collision course with the killer . . . And his Russian boss.
Thanks to great readers like you, PACIFIC REAPER debuted on Amazon’s Hot New Releases list for the International Mystery and Crime category next to some of the genre’s heaviest hitters. Matt Chase’s stellar cover art held its own next to the likes of Jo Nesbo’s THE THIRST.
AWAKENING MACBETH is out now for kindle readers, with the paperback coming 10 January! It’s a romantic suspense thriller with a paranormal twist set in Charlottesville, Virginia and Edinburgh, Scotland.
Related: Read the first chapter of AWAKENING MACBETH here
AWAKENING MACBETH sat in a drawer for several years, as I thought the best way to introduce readers to my writing was through a mystery series. After KING PESO, the fourth Emilia Cruz novel, was released last August, I felt the time was right to bring out a second romantic thriller.
The premise of AWAKENING MACBETH is that when brokenhearted, the soul wanders in search of answers. That restlessness takes place in dreams, where evil stalks in search of souls to steal . . .
I attended graduate school at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. I fell in love with the school’s traditions and ties to Thomas Jefferson, who founded the University. The main character of AWAKENING MACBETH is Dr. Brodie Macbeth, a history professor at the University of Virginia who is a popular academic and author–as well as former college basketball star. She’s successful, but her life has been narrowly defined for many years and she’s very emotionally reserved; the result of a strict upbringing by her father, a noted historian and the head of her department at the university.
The framework of Brodie’s life is blown to smithereens when her father unexpectedly kills himself hours before giving a guest lecture at Harvard. Brodie is left with a very strange inheritance and a million questions. That’s when the nightmares begin. In her sleep, someone with diseased eyes threatens to murder her unless she tells her father’s secret.
There is no secret. But the dreams are so terrifying Brodie is convinced she could die.
On a trip to Scotland to visit her father’s sister, Brodie meets Joe Birnam, a decorated Iraq war vet. I can’t tell you anything more than that, except that their first date takes place at a golf resort outside Edinburgh. We stayed at such a place years ago. The rolling hills and uncoiling mist made for striking memories which I’ve tried to caputre in the book.
St. Andrews golf resort, courtesy of the Travel Channel
Edinburgh itself is a magical place and it is no wonder that J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame, makes her home there. The city is full of turrets and tiny alleys, heroes and history. Anyone with an ounce of creativity can’t help but feel the imagination’s tug.
Photograph taken by Michael Reeve, 15 September 2003. Released under GFDL by the artist.
Readers are already asking about the unusual premise for the book:
Where did the idea for this book come from? My grandmother always said never wake a sleeping child too fast because the soul wanders while we sleep and needs time to return before we’re fully awake. When I combined my grandmother’s words with the saying that the eyes are the windows of the soul, the result gave me chills. I knew it would be a great story.
What was the hardest part of writing this book? The hardest thing was the concept of real evil able to threaten the immortal soul. I hate movies like The Exorcist and had to stop writing several times, too shaken to go on. But evil is out there and this is my interpretation of it. What draws you to this genre? Love and mystery are the perfect combo. Each needs a bit of the other in a book, just like in real life. Romantic thrillers build a relationship, then test it. Can it hold up in a storm? The more exciting the storm, the better.
If you would be so kind
If you love a good romantic suspense tale, or are intrigued by the fight against evil as depicted in the book, I hope you’ll download a copy of AWAKENING MACBETH and stay up all night reading it!
Remember to leave a review on Amazon. You’ll not only help out this author, but help others make intelligence choices about what to read next. Thank you!
The 4th Detective Emilia Cruz novel will be released for Kindle on 18 August and in paperback on 30 August.
While you wait to see just how hot it can get in Acapulco, read the first chapter.
In KING PESO, Acapulco is rocked by the execution-style murders of three law enforcement officers in as many weeks. When her partner Franco Silvio’s wife is killed, it’s obvious to Emilia that the murders are connected and she could be the cop killer’s next target.
She’s gambling on a task force to investigate but Emilia is reassigned instead. Her new police unit is a political time bomb championed by Acapulco’s ambitious mayor and overseen by shady union strongman Victor Obregon Sosa. Home is no refuge for Emilia; hotel manager Kurt Rucker has a shocking secret that could tear their relationship apart.
It’s just another day in paradise, where Mexican drug cartels battle for control and politicians are bought with blood money. For Emilia, every spin of the wheel could be her last.
The high cost of building family and friends. How easy it is to tear them both apart.
In KING PESO, Emilia is shocked by the murder partner Franco Silvio’s wife, as Acapulco reels from the mysterious executions of 3 law enforcement officers in as many weeks. The entire city wants to find the nfamous El Trio killier. Despite the crisis, the chief of police plucks Emilia out of the detective squadroom and reassigns her to a new patrol unit.
Emilia hates the job and the clueless girl in charge. To make matters worse, shady union strongman Victor Obregon Sosa is involved and even provided the unit with its headquarters building.
A falsified report leads Emilia to moonlight as a detective and conduct her own quiet investigation into the El Trio murders, only to find a police cover-up and a fifth victim whose death can only be a direct message from the killer to her. Meanwhile, Emilia’s ongoing hunt for a missing girl leads to the El Pharaoh casino, a place she and Silvio know all too well . . .
Soon, every move Emilia makes is a gamble and the next spin of the wheel could be her last.
Even as she puts her life on the line to discover the truth, Emilia stumbles upon a shocking secret about hotel manager Kurt Rucker. How could she have been so blind?