- Series: Fbi Special Agent Ana Grey
- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (June 21, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780307270139
- ISBN-13: 978-0307270139
- ASIN: 0307270130
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,649,600 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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White Shotgun: An FBI Special Agent Ana Grey Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, June 21, 2011
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Robert Crais Reviews White Shotgun
In the language of the mafias, a murder where the body is never found is called lupara bianca, or white shotgun. To disappear with no one knowing how they killed you is a terrible warning, as it haunts the souls of those left behind. April Smith’s White Shotgun will haunt you.
Let’s cut to the chase: I love Smith’s work. She is one of the finest, smartest, most gifted writers working in crime fiction today, and White Shotgun is her best novel since the justifiably celebrated North of Montana, the novel that introduced FBI Special Agent Ana Grey. White Shotgun is an edgy, realistic, personal trip down the rabbit hole of an FBI undercover operation into one of the ‘mafias.’ Note the plural. This ain’t your daddy’s mafia. The new mafia is called the mafias. Forget Sonny Corleone, what you think you know from The Godfather, and rehashed Sopranos tropes straight outta Jersey--what you will read here in Smith’s thoroughly researched and realistically portrayed thriller is the way its done, now, today, straight outta Italy.
This is the real deal.
These days, the ‘Ndrangheta clan of the mafias occupy “the sh-t-caked bottom of Italy’s boot, a multibillion-dollar crime syndicate made up a hundred tribal families with blood ties, six thousand strong, holed up in remote mountain villages,” exactly like the Taliban operates in Afghanistan. Cracking the scores of families that operate out of inaccessible fortress towns, from where they run heroin from the poppy fields of Afghanistan (feeding cash to Taliban warriors) to the port of Naples, and eventually to my home town, and yours, here in the U.S. of A., is of prime concern to the FBI--and Special Agent Ana Grey.
Grey has little choice. It turns out Nicoli Nicosa, a new breed mafia associate who operates as a coffee magnate, is a primary person of interest for the FBI. When it becomes known that Nicosa’s wife, Cecilia, is a half-sister Ana never knew existed, and has reached out to Ana for an unknown reason, the FBI brass force Grey into a deep-cover op to gather intelligence. But when Cecilia is kidnapped, Ana finds that a rekindled sense of family inspires her to step outside the FBI and risk her career by working “off the books” with her sister’s mobster husband to bring Cecilia home. Enlisting the help of her ex-Delta-Force boyfriend, Sterling McCord, and a tactical force of recruited mercenaries, Ana hangs her life and career over the edge to recover her sister, dead or alive.
Smith renders the southern Italian setting with such honesty and care you will feel the touch of ancient stone and smell espresso as you read. Similarly, Ana Grey is evoked with such authenticity and realism you can feel her body heat.
This is Smith, the writer, showing us how it’s done.
This is Smith’s talent and skill at work (and the work is difficult, believe me), creating not only a balls-to-the-wall crime thriller, but a full-blown novel of depth and richness (and, for the action prone among you, both the best sniper scene and best rendition of a hostage-recovery assault I’ve read, period, bar none.)
But, ultimately, after the smoke clears and the bodies are counted, April Smith has given us more.
White Shotgun is a novel about redemption and growth, and the healing power of love and acceptance, and the acceptance of love. Hard won lessons to learn, but worth learning.
THREE STARS. In Italy to uncover dirt on a relative on the FBI's watch list, Ana Grey finds calamities piling up, but the adrenaline is nicely balanced by the heroine's grappling with loyalties to both blood and Bureau.
STARRED REVIEW. Ana Grey is a credible, fascinating heroine, both worldly and rueful about her unsettled life. Tight suspense and fascinating background. --BOOKLIST
“April Smith’s White Shotgun will haunt you. . . . She is one of the finest, smartest, most gifted writers working in crime fiction today.” —Robert Crais, New York Times bestselling author of Taken
“The adrenaline is nicely balanced by [Ana’s] grappling with loyalties to both blood and Bureau.” —People
“A satisfying thriller, but what’s even more impressive is the crisp, spare writing.” —Los Angeles Times
“It left me hungry for more—more Italy, more fun and more drama.” —Mark Davis, Las Vegas Review-Journal
“Smith tells one heck of a crime story with tightly woven, suspenseful plots and lovable but terribly mixed-up protagonists.” —USA Today
“Smith is a writer with a laser eye that can record with cold precision the details of the daily life of her crime-solving subjects.” —Chicago Tribune
“April Smith writes in the forceful style of a true literary maverick, someone who has earned the right to break a few rules.” —The New York Times
“Smith has created a vibrant, intriguing cast of characters and has a superb eye for detail, as evidenced by her vivid descriptions of the Italian landscape. . . . Her true forte is storytelling.” —Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
“Ana Grey is a credible, fascinating heroine, both worldly and rueful about her unsettled life. . . . Tight suspense and fascinating background.” —Booklist (starred review)
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Top Customer Reviews
Ana Grey is in Siena, just before Palio. After escaping a drive-by shooting in London that nearly killed her and her ex-Delta Force lover, Ana is united with a half-sister she did not know existed. The half-sister has called out to her, telling her that she is due a small inheritance of a couple thousand euros. She knows, however, that Ana is a special agent in the FBI. Why is that important? How can Ana be of help to her?
The half-sister is married to an Italian coffee magnate whose mafia-related mistress has recently disappeared, dissolved in a boiling vat of lye. What has the husband been up to? And what about their son, who turns up with multiple stab wounds in a Siena alley?
Before these questions are answered we will be re-introduced to Ana's lover, who works for Oryx, an elite mercenary force, based in a warehouse near Heathrow. And before the assaults on her sister's family are over we're going to need some of her lover's colleagues for a special operation.
The canvas encompasses London, Siena, the slums of Calabria and the stretch of sea between the mainland and Sicily. The principal focus is Siena and April knows it like the back of her hand. And its neighborhoods. And its foods. And its criminal elements. And its Palio.
I have enjoyed April Smith's novels from the beginning. Each one of them, in hardcover, rests on a special shelf. This may be the very best of a very fine lot. Characters, plot, setting and themes are all done to perfection. Two bits of advice: be prepared to read it through once you start and be prepared to thirst for wine and espresso while you read.
And to the MWA awards panel: get the Edgar award ready.
While the action is fast-moving, the characters are developed, unusual and fascinating. April Smith is a keen observer and there are many levels to enjoy about this book. If you love a good thriller, nuanced characters and the added element of modern Italy as a fascinating backdrop, this is the book for you.
North of Montana (1994),
Good Morning, Killer (2003),
Judas Horse (2008)
White Shotgun (2011)
White Shotgun has a complex plot that takes Agent Grey and her way too moody security expert lover Sterling McCord, to Siena, Italy. It turns out Ana has a half-sister, Cecilia Nicosa, and the Feds want Ana to spy on her shifty husband, Nicoli. Nicoli's mistress is MIA, possibly a victim of something called "lupara blanco" translated to "white shotgun" murder which was a new one to me.
There is also an attempted murder of Cecilia & Nicoli's teenage son. Then Cecilia disappears, Even the police can't be trusted. Rollercoaster!
While on vacation status in London with boyfriend Sterling McCord, Grey is witness to a brutal shootout. Before she can wipe off the debris, Grey is being sent by the bureau to Italy to gather intel on the husband of her recently discovered half sister, Cecilia Nicosa. Everything in Ana Grey's world is deep and complex -- from friends, family and lovers to the bars she visits and we are continually exposed to both the beauty and ugliness of Siena and its people.
April Smith's characters are superbly crafted and her research is spot on. She introduces us to a mafia that no doubt exists and I hope to never encounter. The leader is known as "The Puppet," and I'm not going to reveal why, but I assure you it has nothing to do with weakness.
I spent a few years of my life reading and reviewing crime fiction on a weekly basis and I love the genre. I always enjoy a well-written story about a tough cop or P.I., but Ana Grey is much more. She's a complex, believable and ultimately far more compelling character than usually found in even the best thrillers and crime novels. As a narrator, Grey shares her love life, professional expertise, sense of smell and wry wit with her readers, who she steadily draws in to a realistic and desperate world.
This is Smith's fourth (and definitely the best) book in the Ana Grey series and my only grievance is that I wish she wrote more frequently.