Fiction 2023 / 335 pages
Genre: Thriller & Suspense
Dinner at Tony Napoli’s
"If ‘dem walls could only talk…"
Back for another novel by Edward Izzi, I was impressed by the strong writing and detailed descriptions found throughout. In the same theme of many past novels, the story has both legal and mafia flavourings, as a Chicago PD detective must come to terms with his uncle’s arrest after a gruesome discovery in a restaurant. What transpires is a decades-long depiction of the restaurant, its patrons, the the secrets devised within its walls. Izzi does a masterful job once more and proves that he is at the top of the genre.
After many years serving the Chicago community, Antonio ‘Tony Napoli’ Sorrentino chose to close down his Italian restaurant after 57 years. Many prominent members of society have dined within its walls, from politicians, sports figures, and even the odd gangster. If only the walls could talk!
During the demolition process, the crew uncovers the remains of four bodies buried in concrete within the foundation. Soon the area is swarming with CPD, trying to determine who has been found and what to do with Tony Napoli. Always seen as so calm and a pillar of the community, many wonder if Tony had a darker side. The 87 year old is carted off to jail to await prosecution, vehemently denying knowing anything about it.
Detective Dennis Romanowski knows Tony Napoli quite well, having worked in his establishment during his youth as a busboy. A distant relative on his mother’s side, ‘Zio Toy’ has been an influential part of Romanowski’s life and the news sends shock waves through his household. Visiting Zio Tony in jail, Romanowski finds an old and broken man who is being charged with first degree murder, still asserting that he knows nothing.
However, with the end sure to be near, Tony Napoli decides to tell his nephew some long-ago stories about the mob connections that he has and the plots that were hatched inside the restaurant. Fingering powerful men and lowly hired killers, Tony Napoli tells all to his nephew, in hopes of unburdening his soul before the ultimate end. What Detective Romanowski discovers is a collection of murders, extortions, and plotted attacks that have been left unsolved for years. Just as Zio Tony mentioned when closing up shop, if only the walls could speak.
Now, with the details coming out, some wish Tony Napoli had kept his mouth shut and let things rest. While he may be old, Tony Napoli’s actions cannot go unaccounted for, leaving the old man in a definite target for those who may want to keep the silence. What follows is a race for answers and protection. Izzi does a fabulous job once more with this piece, tapping into what he knows best.
When I discovered the writing of Edward Izzi a few years ago, I found that I could not get enough of the books. While each presents as a standalone novel, the protagonists in each are inter-connected and appear as minor characters in other books. This connects not only the writing, but the overall reading experience, which is sure to impress those who have taken the time to read many (or all) of Izzi’s novels. The basis of this piece is strong and provides the reader with a clear idea of where things are headed. Working in both the present and past times, Izzi builds the story up well and delivers strong direction the reader can easily follow. Characters are, as mentioned above, recurring in some cases, which their backstories developed a little more on numerous occasions. Izzi crafts his characters to be complex, though they are also relatable to the reader, helping with the process of better understanding them. The plot lines are less a surprise than a revelation and Izzi does well to deliver them in an effective manner. There is something about these tales that works well, keeping the reader in the middle of the action. While I surely have enjoyed many of the books, I know many will want to read these as standalone. There is no harm in doing so, as storylines do not necessarily continue from one book to the next. However, the continuity of reading things in their published order will provide the attentive reader with something quite unique, as certain characters emerge and then slip into the background before re-emerging once more.
Kudos, Mr. Izzi, for another great book in your collection of superior novels.