Who can forget the Corleone family? Whether first met between the pages of a book, in a darkened movie theater or on a smaller screen in your home, they were unlike any people most of us have known. Mario Puzo had introduced the world to the Mafia. Francis Ford Coppola brought gang members to all too vivid life on screen. For many (myself included) that would be enough.....and then I saw that this audio book was read by Joe Mantegna.
Tony award winner Mantegna, as many know, was the ultimate gangster on screen in "The Godfather: Part III" and "Bugsy." His voice is deep, resonant, and when he issues an order - you better hop to it. He never over-dramatizes, which would be easy to do in this fast-paced tale, but exercises such control that his narration is almost tight, if you will, rendering it compelling to the nth.
Winegardner (author of "The Godfather Returns") now mixes the Corleones with politics - a president and an attorney general (his brother) - think JFK. Michael Corleone has more than he can handle with Nick Geraci, once a devoted follower now a deadly rival, and one of his top men plotting to assassinate the president. There's the tie between the CIA and Mafia killers, and the reappearance of favorite characters - Johnny Fontane, the spineless crooner, and Tom Hagen, the Irish consigliere.
For this listener, one of Winegardner's most intriguing characters is Francesca Corleone Van Arsdale, Sonny's daughter, who is a chip (or chippy, if you will) off the old block.
The Corleone's never fail to amaze and entertain - thanks to a superb narration and an inventive story by Winegardner who writes with the approval of the Puzo estate.
- Gail Cooke