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Omerta Mass Market Paperback – May 1, 2001

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Editorial Reviews Review

Omerta, the third novel in Mario Puzo's Mafia trilogy, is infinitely better than the third Godfather film, and most movies in fact. Besides colorful characters and snappy dialogue, it's got a knotty, gratifying, just-complex-enough plot and plenty of movie-like scenes. The newly retired Mafioso Don Raymonde Aprile attends his grandson's confirmation at St. Patrick's in New York, handing each kid a gold coin. Long shot: "Brilliant sunshine etched the image of that great cathedral into the streets around it." Medium shot: "The girls in frail cobwebby white lace dresses, the boys [with] traditional red neckties knitted at their throats to ward off the Devil." Close-up: "The first bullet hit the Don square in the forehead. The second bullet tore out his throat."

More crucial than the tersely described violence is the emotional setting: a traditional, loving clan menaced by traditional vendettas. With Don Aprile hit, the family's fate lies in the strong hands of his adopted nephew from Sicily, Astorre. The Don kept his own kids sheltered from the Mafia: one son is an army officer; another is a TV exec; his daughter Nicole (the most developed character of the three) is an ace lawyer who liked to debate the Don on the death penalty. "Mercy is a vice, a pretension to powers we do not have ... an unpardonable offense to the victim," the Don maintained. Astorre, a macaroni importer and affable amateur singer, was secretly trained to carry on the Don's work. Now his job is to show no mercy.

But who did the hit? Was it Kurt Cilke, the morally tormented FBI man who recently jailed most of the Mafia bosses? Or Timmona Portella, the Mob boss Cilke still wants to collar? How about Marriano Rubio, the womanizing, epicurean Peruvian diplomat who wants Nicole in bed--did he also want her papa's head?

If you didn't know Puzo wrote Omerta, it would be no mystery. His marks are all over it: lean prose, a romance with the Old Country, a taste for olives in barrels, a jaunty cynicism ("You cannot send six billionaires to prison," says Cilke's boss. "Not in a democracy"), an affection for characters with flawed hearts, like Rudolfo the $1,500-an-hour sexual massage therapist, or his short-tempered client Aspinella, the one-eyed NYPD detective. The simultaneous courtship of cheery Mafia tramp Rosie by identical hit-man twins Frankie and Stace Sturzo makes you fall in love with them all--and feel a genuine pang when blood proves thicker than eros.

This fitting capstone to Puzo's career is optioned for a film, and Michael Imperioli of TV's The Sopranos narrates the audiocassette version of the novel. But why wait for the movie? Omerta is a big, old-fashioned movie in its own right. --Tim Appelo --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

"The dead have no friends," says one gangster to another in Puzo's final novel, as they plot to kill America's top Mafioso. But Puzo, despite his death last year at age 78, should gain many new friends for this operatic thriller, his most absorbing since The Sicilian. The slain mobster is the elderly Don Raymonde Aprile. His heirs, around whom the violent, vastly emotional narrative swirls, are his three children and one nephew. It's the nephew, Astorre Viola, who inherits the Don's legacy and transforms before his cousins' astonished eyes from a foppish playboy into a Man of Honor, as he avenges the Don's death and protects his family from those hungry for its prime possession: banks that will earn legitimate billions in the years ahead. Astorre's change is no surprise to the few aged mobsters who know that, as a youth, he was trained to be a Qualified Man, or to the fewer still who knowDas Astorre does notDthat his real father was a great Sicilian Mafioso. Arrayed against Astorre in his pursuit of cruel justice are some of the sharpest Puzo characters ever, among them a corrupt and beautiful black New York policewoman; assassin twins; wiseguys galore, including a drug lord who seeks his own nuclear weapon; and, drawn in impressive shades of gray, a veteran FBI agent who imperils his family and his soul to destroy Astorre. Despite its familiar subject matter, the novelDwhich shuttles among Sicily, England and AmericaDis unpredictable and bracing, but its greatest strength is Puzo's voice, ripe with age and wisdom, as attentive to the scent of lemons and oranges in a Sicilian garden as to a good man's sudden, bloody death. This is pulp raised to art and a worthy memorial to the author, who one last time makes readers an offer they can't refuse. 500,000 first printing; simultaneous Random House audio and large print editions; to be a film from Miramax. (July)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (May 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345432401
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345432407
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (165 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #181,592 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By TundraVision on July 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
"You can't go home again" - nor could Mario Puzo - in his last novel, recreate the fascination and absorption I found when I first read "The Godfather." They say this is the 3rd book of "The Godfather" trilogy. That is true only in the sense that this is also a tale of a "Mafia" family - which mentions the Corleones. I found the "fairy tale" tone of this book to be initially off-putting. "And so it grew" "And so it turned out that ..." but the tale and plot - while not "The Godfather," is increasingly engrossing. While not creating the depth of characters as in "the Godfather," (I had to write notes to myself to keep track of who was whom) one does come to care for some of these characters - which propels one to keep turning the pages. There are not the shocks such as that created by awakening in bed with a prized horse's severed head - but there still are some "rude surprises." [I won't ruin the surprise - read the book!] My favorite quote: "I'll go to the Dakotas and they'll never find me."
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39 of 46 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I read this book in one night. I am a huge Godfather fan and was really looking forward to reading this. There are some great characters, like two twin hitmen who operate as a team and Astorre, the opera singing, horse riding young Don who knows the old Sicilian ways, like the code of Omerta. It moves back and forth from present day New York to some great early stuff in Sicily. I highly reccomend this to anyone who liked the Godfather. It is the best Puzo since then. I can't wait for the movie.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on May 31, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Omerta reads more like a synopsis than a fully realized novel. As always, Puzo creates fascinating characters, but this story is so brief that few of these characters have the opportunity to come to life. This book is really a movie treatment, and I won't be surprised if the movie is more enjoyable than the book, which is redeemed only by Puzo's gift for description and his talent for delightfully cynical aphorisms.
We'll never know if Puzo intended to do more with this story. It would be easy to believe that Omerta was a first draft and that if Puzo's health had been better he might have breathed more life into it. As it stands, it's a predictable, fairly bland story, with familiar plot elements that fans of Puzo's earlier Mafia works are accustomed to.
It's become more difficult to believe in Puzo's mythological wiseguys, after films like "Goodfellas", "Donnie Brasco" and the TV series "The Sopranos" have given us a more realistic view of what these people are like. Puzo himself expressed contempt for his own myth, saying of the Godfather, "I made it all up", and "I wrote it to make money." This lack of respect for his own material was evident in The Godfather and even more so in The Last Don; however Puzo's talent for character development and ear for dialogue made these novels compelling in spite of their pulp origins.
However, Omerta didn't have enough substance in it to hold my interest. I enjoyed bits and pieces of it, but I expect the movie will be more fun.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Erik Johnson on July 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
All in all, Mario Puzo's new book is very good. It's a page turner and had me interested from start to finish. The plot was weaved with expertice(sp) that can only be achieved by decades of experience. It did, however, have a few problems that brought the rating from 5 to 4. Here are thge three reasons: 1. The book is too short. It seemed that Mr. Puzo cut some corners in writing it, and left out some valuable information. 2. This reason is related to #1. The book ended kind of abrupty and I wasn't totally satisfied with the ending. It seemed that Mario got 85% through the book and then decided that he wanted to just finish the last leg of the book in a day or two. 3. My final complaint is that the characters never really developed. In The Godfather, you get to know and understand even the least important of charaters (Johnny Fontane). In 'Omerta', the characters never really reach that 3rd dimension... possibly because he tried to fit so many characters into a relatively short novel. Once again, if he took his time with the story he could have developed characters like the Aprile children (who don't even make it past the 1st dimension, except for Nicole). One in particualar is Valerius, who we don't get to know AT ALL. Thia book surely has it's downside, but don't let that discourage you from reading it. All in all it is a genuinely good book worthy of the Puzo name.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By bobbewig TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Omerta is a rich, powerful epitaph to Puzo's mafia trilogy. It well deserves the large reading audience it will definitely attract. Typical of all of Puzo's books, Omerta grabs your attention and never lets go, it's filled with action and suspense, and it's loaded with interesting characters. Omerta' s greatest quality, however, is Puzo's narrative style, in which you can feel every emotion his characters are feeling and vividly picture every setting in which his characters appear. Omerta is without question a fitting memorial to a great writer. The only reason I didn't give Omerta a 5-star rating is that would make it equivalent to 'The Godfather', which it is not. But than again, how many books are? Make yourself an offer you can't refuse and buy a copy of Omerta. Enjoy!
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