3.9 51
by Mario Puzo

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Mario Puzo spent the last three years of his life writing Omerta, the concluding installment in his saga about power and morality in America. In The Godfather, he introduced us to the Corleones. In The Last Don, he told the wicked tale of the Clericuzios.See more details below



Mario Puzo spent the last three years of his life writing Omerta, the concluding installment in his saga about power and morality in America. In The Godfather, he introduced us to the Corleones. In The Last Don, he told the wicked tale of the Clericuzios.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble Guide to New Fiction
The final chapter in Mario Puzo's landmark Mafia trilogy is "a great read," and "impossible to put down!" A terrific plot and "likeable, though really bad guy" characters add up to "a definite recommendation."
R. Z. Sheppard
This posthumously published novel by the author of The Godfather has more tasty twists than a plate of fusilli...Cunning entanglements with an FBI gangbuster, crooked cops and strong women sauce up this deft and passionate last novel by the Balzac of the Mafia.
Time Magazine
Tom Walker
A splendid piece of crime fiction....Through it all, Puzo keeps the heat on and keeps the reader enthralled with his characters and his story. He was the consummate pro and he knew his subject like no one before him. Omerta is a fitting cap to a tremendous career.
Denver Post
John Smyntek
In Omerta, Puzo cements his reputation as a page-turning storyteller. And on many a beach or poolside this summer, readers will run the risk of sunburn because Omerta will have grabbed their imaginations, making them forget it was time for more tanning butter...Let us end with the hope that maybe Francis Ford Coppola might somehow craft Omerta into the real finale to his cinematic Mafia threesome.
Detroit Free Press
David Walton
Omerta is great fun to read, the perfect summer novel...full of action and invention, written in the high earnestness and wicked playfulness of Puzo's best style. With sly intent, he recasts some of the themes and devices from his earlier novels...The dialogue, always a high point in Puzo's books, is crisp and deadpan caustic.
Trenton Times
New York Post
As with The Godfather--both the book and its movies--the reader gets sucked into the plot immediately and soon feels sympathies shifting and loyalties becoming confused. Who is the bad guy? Are there any good guys? Puzo's genius was to create a world so thick with personality and acknowledged rules of social behavior, along with its crime and violence, that reading his books becomes a seriously guilty pleasure.
Albert DiBartolomeo
Puzo fans will enjoy Omerta, as will others looking for a good book to read on the beach.
Philadelphia Inquirer
Andrew Furman
To his credit, Puzo suffuses the novel with many of the ingredients his readers crave, tantalizingly documenting the lavish lifestyles and sexual exploits of his hot-blooded characters.
Miami Herald
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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 know--as Astorre does not--that 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 novel--which shuttles among Sicily, England and America--is 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 Cahners Business Information.|
Library Journal
The charismatic and expertly paced performance of veteran narrator Joe Mantegna enhances this fast-moving abridgment of the final installment of Puzo's Mafia trilogy. After his adopted uncle Don Aprile is assassinated, Astorre Viola must balance his promise to protect Aprile's three children and the family's legitimate banking business with his desire for revenge. As Astorre puts his plan to protect the family into place, he must contend with the FBI, the New York Police Department, and members of rival Mafia families who all want a piece of the Aprile pie. While certainly a fast-paced suspense novel, the story is also a commentary about how Old World values like respect and omerta (a code of honor) suffer in today's rapid-fire, globalized economy. Engaging with its colorful characters and satisfying plot, this is an excellent choice for all contemporary fiction collections.--Beth Farrell, Portage Cty. Dist., Lib., OH Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The final volume of Puzo's sensationally popular Mafia trilogy (after The Godfather, 1969, and The Last Don, 1996), completed shortly before his recent death, explores in characteristically slam-bang fashion the consequences of a violation of the Sicilian `code of silence` (omerta) on which Mafia security and power are based. The flaws are easy to spot: generic characters, middling dialogue, overfamiliar narrative situations and twists, and—especially in this installment's expository opening pages—an overreliance on summary that retards the story's pace and makes us perversely eager for some salutary slaughter. Puzo doesn't disappoint, in the tangled tale of the legacy bequeathed by venerable Don Raymonde Aprile, who had forsworn criminal activities and built a `legit` banking empire. When the Don is murdered, his presumably respectable heirs (a high-powered woman attorney, a TV network executive, a stiff-necked West Point officer, and their adopted `cousin,` a pasta mogul) are drawn into a fabulously plotted crossfire of intrigue, betrayal, and murder. Also implicated: a seemingly straight-arrow FBI agent (`the man who broke up the Mafia` in New York City), the importunate crime boss who thinks he's pocketed him, a cheerful party girl whose list of lovers includes several criminal bigwigs, and a corrupt (and murderous) black woman police commissioner. The surprises keep coming as the body count increases, and Puzo expertly steers the plot toward an agreeably bloody climax (`the Macaroni Massacre`). There are also such incidental pleasures as a pair of nonidentical-twin brother assassins, a courtly drug-lord who aims to build a defensive nuclear arsenal, andseveral wryMafioso aperçus (`After you decide to kill a man, never speak to him. It makes things embarrassing for both of you`). To some extent a retread, but who cares ? This is lurid and fascinating pop entertainment. Nobody did it better.

From the Publisher
"[A] deft and passionate last novel by the Balzac of the Mafia."

"A SPLENDID PIECE OF CRIME FICTION . . . A FITTING CAP TO A TREMENDOUS CAREER . . . Through it all, Puzo keeps the heat on and keeps the reader enthralled with his characters and his story."
—The Denver Post

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Product Details

Random House Large Print
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Large Print

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IN THE STONE-FILLED VILLAGE of Castellarnmare del Golfo facing the dark Sicilian Mediterranean, a great Mafia Don lay dying. Vincenzo Zeno was a man of honor, who all his life had been loved for his fair and impartial judgment, his help to those in need, and his implacable punishment of those who dared to oppose his will.

Around him were three of his former followers, each of whom had gone on to achieve his own power and position: Raymonde Aprile from Sicily and New York, Octavius Bianco from Palermo, and Benito Craxxi from Chicago. Each owed him one last favor.

Don Zeno was the last of the true Mafia chiefs, having all his life observed the old traditions. He extracted a tariff on all business, but never on drugs, prostitution, or other crime of any kind. And never did a poor man come to his house for money and go away empty-handed. He corrected the injustices of the law-the highest judge in Sicily could make his ruling, but if you had right on your side, Don Zeno would veto that judgment with his own force of will, and arms.

No philandering youth could leave the daughter of a poor peasant without Don Zeno persuading him into holy matrimony. No bank could foreclose on a helpless farmer without Don Zeno interfering to put things right. No young lad who hungered for a university education could be denied it for lack of money or qualification. If they were related to his cosca, his clan, their dreams were fulfilled. The laws from Rome could never justify the traditions of Sicily and had no authority; Don Zeno would overrule them, no matter what the cost.

But the Don was now in his eighties, and over the last few years his power had begun to wane. He'd had the weakness to marry a very beautiful young girl, who had produced a fine male child. She had died in childbirth, and the boy was now two years old. The old man, knowing that the end was near and that without him his cosca would be pulverized by the more powerful coscas of Corleone and Clericuzio, pondered the future of his son.

Now he thanked his three friends for the courtesy and respect they had shown in traveling so many miles to hear his request. Then he told them that he wanted his young son, Astorre, to be taken to a place of safety and brought up under different circumstances but in the tradition of a man of honor, like himself.

"I can die with a clear conscience," he said, though his friends knew that in his lifetime he had decided the deaths of hundreds of men, "if I can see my son to safety. For in this two-year-old I see the heart and soul of a true Mafioso, a rare and almost extinct quality."

He told them he would choose one of these men would to act as guardian to this unusual child, and with this responsibility would come great rewards.

"It is strange," Don Zeno said, staring through clouded eyes. "According to tradition, it is the first son who is the true Mafioso. But in my case it took until I reached my eightieth year before I could make my dream come true. I'm not a man of superstition, but if I were, I could believe this child grew from the soil of Sicily itself. His eyes are as green as olives that spring from my best trees. And he has the Sicilian sensibilityromantic, musical, happy. Yet if someone offends him, he doesn't forget, as young as he is. But he must be guided."

"And so what do you wish from us, Don Zeno?" Craxxi asked. "For I will gladly take this child of yours and raise him as my own."

Bianco stared at Craxxi almost resentfully. "I know the boy from when he was first born. He is familiar to me. I will take him as my own."

Raymonde Aprile looked at Don Zeno but said nothing.

"And you, Raymonde?" Don Zeno asked.

Aprile said, "If it is me that you choose, your son will be my son."

The Don considered the three of them, all worthy men. He regarded Craxxi the most intelligent. Bianco was surely the most ambitious and forceful. Aprile was a more restrained man of virtue, a man closer to himself. But he was merciless.

Don Zeno, even while dying, understood that it was Raymonde Aprile who most needed the child. He would benefit most from the child's love, and he would make certain his son learned how to survive in their world of treachery.

Don Zeno was silent for a long moment. Finally he said, "Raymonde, you will be his father. And I can rest in peace."

The Don's funeral was worthy of an emperor. All the cosca chiefs in Sicily came to pay their respects, along with cabinet ministers from Rome, the owners of the great latifundia, and hundreds of subjects of his widespread cosca. Atop the black horse-drawn hearse, two-year-old Astorre Zeno, a fiery-eyed baby attired in a black frock and black pillbox hat, rode as majestically as a Roman emperor.

The cardinal of Palermo conducted the service and proclaimed memorably, "In sickness and in health, in unhappiness and despair, Don Zeno remained a true friend to all." He then intoned Don Zeno's last words: "I commend myself to God. He will forgive my sins, for I have tried every day to be just."

And so it was that Astorre Zeno was taken to America by Raymonde Aprile and made a part of his own household.

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"[A] deft and passionate last novel by the Balzac of the Mafia."

"A SPLENDID PIECE OF CRIME FICTION . . . A FITTING CAP TO A TREMENDOUS CAREER . . . Through it all, Puzo keeps the heat on and keeps the reader enthralled with his characters and his story."
—The Denver Post

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