Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Sons and Princes - James LePore

It’s been a while since I’ve read a Mafia novel. That’s not one of my favorite sub-genres. However, the other books I’ve read by James LePore have been very good, so I gave his new one, SONS AND PRINCES, a try.

It’s the story of Chris Massi, the son of legendary Mafia hitman Joe Black Massi, who as the novel opens has recently been murdered. Chris has more troubles than that, however. He has steered clear of involvement with organized crime despite his family heritage and the fact that for a time he was married to the daughter of Anthony “Junior Boy” DiGiglio, the last of the real Mafia dons. A U.S. attorney, a former childhood friend of Chris’s, has a grudge against him and has succeeded in getting him disbarred on some trumped-up charges. When his ex-father-in-law offers Chris the chance to take revenge on the man who ordered his father killed, Chris is very tempted to turn his back on his law-abiding existence and live up to his legacy.

That’s just the start of Chris’s problems. He becomes an unofficial private eye when he agrees to try to locate a missing woman as a favor for an old friend, and that leads him into a case involving drugs, snuff films, and associates of his ex-father-in-law Junior Boy. The plot gets extremely complex before everything is sorted out, with plenty of murders, double-crosses, surprising revelations, and suspenseful shoot-outs.

There’s nothing fancy about LePore’s prose, but he’s an exceptional storyteller, with that indefinable ability to keep the reader flipping the pages. He also creates believable, well-rounded characters and makes the reader care about them. A lot of books I read, I have a pretty good idea what’s going to happen in them. SONS AND PRINCES took me by surprise several times, and I always like that. If you enjoy organized crime yarns, I highly recommend it.

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