Omerta, the Sicilian code of silence, has been the cornerstone of the Mafia's sense of honour for centuries. In New York a mob boss is assassinated and no one will talk. His nephew and the head of the FBI both launch investigations.
Omertàis the Sicilian code of silence, the essential element by which the Mafia has maintained its power over the centuries. Puzo is interested in the way in which changing times have forced organised crime to adapt, however painful the process. The code is tested when a mob boss, Don Aprile, is brutally murdered in New York. Both Astorre, Aprile's nephew, and Cilke, the New York FBI chief, launch investigations into the killing. It soon becomes clear to both men that a grim conspiracy has spread its tentacles across rival gangs, corrupt bankers and even the courts. Much blood must be spilled before the killers are found--there are many (on both sides of the law) who will do their best to stop this happening.
Puzo's favourite theme--the interchangeability of big business and organised crime--is handled with his customary panache. However much we may disapprove of the horrifically violent Mafiosi, we remain riveted by their implacable cold-bloodedness. Astorre has all the complexity of Michael Corleone (even if we've been here before) but Cilke is a new departure for the author--a lawman who is quite as powerfully characterised as Puzo's criminal protagonists.
It goes without saying that the grisly set-pieces are handled with the usual élan:
The car sped up and stopped as the Don reached the last step. Stace jumped out of the back seat--in one quick move he rested his gun on the roof. He shot two-handed. He only shot twice. The first bullet hit the Don square in the forehead. The second bullet tore out his throat. His blood spurted all over the sidewalk, showering yellow sunlight with pink drops.--Barry Forshaw
This one tells a simple story about a Mafia heir who has been trained to look after the family and assets of a 'Don' after his death. There are interesting, if shallow, characters in abundance and the story is gripping enough to keep reading into the small hours.
The pace is fairly steady and the narrative very linear: you know who the culprits are fairly early on (so that's out of the way) and interest centres on how revenge will be exacted, rather than against whom. If it were a film script it would be described as: "good story but lousy editing". The reason for this is that Mr Puzzo may not have finished the book himself: the copyright is 2000, but he died in 1999.
Overall, this is not a great book. It does not have the epic qualities of the Godfather and certainly does not feel like part of a trilogy. Good for the beach this summer, but that's about it.