The Mezzogiorno Social Club
Little Italy was home to Italian immigrants and their American progeny in mid-20th century Manhattan. It was safe as long as one played by the rules of the Black Hand, an earlier Mafia-style group, and dangerous if one failed to “pay” the bribes the Black Hand imposed on local businesses. Many of these pages depict the ever-present “hits” and arrests in Little Italy from over fifty years ago. Ercole Gaudioso, however, has deftly crafted character sketches that make this novel uniquely intriguing.
First, we meet Lina the Gnome, who has supposedly lived for a century and can predict how certain conflicts will unfold and how certain characters’ futures will evolve. She’s kind, truthful and trustworthy, and so many residents and Mafia bosses go to her for guidance. As long as fairness and justice prevail, she will continue her guidance. Now, however, is the time of momentous change. It begins with a sacred painting that disappears and is the cause of several deaths due to the relentless search for the priceless work of art. Lucia and Rosina are two complex Italian ladies who are dependent on “protection” after Lucia’s husband is killed, perhaps with some culpability on her part. Detective Joe Petrosino is very good at capturing mobster criminals, with no problem using his own “muscle” to make that happen. He is revered and deeply mourned, as an honest, concerned individual, after his unexpected demise. Why is his death symbolic of the end of the “safe” environment in Little Italy? Loyalty lies with the day’s victor!
This is page-flipping, magical historical fiction about the end of a dynasty of three Italian families and its shake-up of Italian culture.