In this short novel set in Naples and New South Wales, Australia, a mafia assassin establishes a new life with his young family, but past actions and new mistakes threaten to undo all he achieves.
Tommaso Panzarroti comes of age in WWII-ravaged Naples and makes his way up in the world working for Pietro, the boss of the Giordano family’s criminal network. Tommaso carries out a range of tasks, including making Pietro’s enemies disappear.
Moving his family to Australia, he becomes Tony Palmer, and the years pass quickly. A return trip to Naples with his son and two grandsons brings Tony back into contact with his old boss, Pietro, who, although welcoming, is not to be trusted.
A range of tensions propel the narrative. Competition builds between Tommaso’s grandsons; Australian police link two murders committed by Tommaso 40 years and continents apart; and Pietro attempts to double-cross his old friend — all ingredients for an interesting story.
Unfortunately, several issues create obstacles to reader enjoyment. First, inconsistencies render the plot implausible. For example, much is made of the similarities between the two murders, yet the first is a quick mafia-style execution and the second victim, with no links to organized crime, is brutally tortured. Second, in the latter stages of the story, complex financial fraud is outlined in a confusing and convoluted manner.
Meanwhile, weak characterization and clichés abound. The author tells readers about the characters’ traits, rather than revealing those characteristics through action and dialogue. Conversations between characters are stilted and unnatural. Finally, Tommaso is a morally bankrupt individual without redeeming human qualities to engage readers’ sympathy or interest. His grandson Mathew is equally amoral, although the scenes where he resolves the cross and double-cross between his grandfather and Pietro are a highlight.
Overall, Justice? offers a promising storyline, but issues in execution lead to a disappointing reading experience.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.