Set against a picture-postcard landscape in the northeastern region of Sicily, Nebrodi Mountains sheds light on individuals’ abilities to choose their own moral compass.
The storyline intertwines multiple characters and subplots. Early on, the story introduces new billionaire in town, Jerry Johnson, and his wife, along with their budding friendship with a neighboring couple who run a charitable refugee organization. Johnson questions police about the mafia’s presence in the area. While concerned about the mafia’s reputation, Johnson isn’t opposed to enlisting them to create a “natural disaster” to convince a landowner to sell his property for Johnson’s shady investment purposes.
Meanwhile, the mafia wants to venture into human trafficking in Rome. They look for recruits among refugees in the local charitable organization. Johnson is none-too-happy to hear they have claimed he’s interested in donating to this refugee camp so they can gain access.
Johnson also learns of some valuable paintings owned by the church, and offers to buy them. Mafia members have their own interest, attempting to steal the paintings from the priest’s office.
Throughout, the author creatively incorporates the priest’s discussions with various characters about God vs. the devil and free will. Italicized conversations characters have with themselves add interest as they attempt to rationalize their ultimate decisions, whether business or personal.
When tragedy strikes Johnson’s family, the billionaire joins the “capo’s” estranged daughter to take down the mob with the help of the anti-mafia task force.
This is a fast-paced, action-packed tale that skillfully showcases love, family, tragedy and loss amidst a bevy of criminal activity.
However, some sudden scene changes within chapters can be jarring. And while the characters are well developed, sometimes their behaviors don’t ring true. For example, it seems unlikely that a vengeful mafia would feel intimidated by a mere businessman.
Still, with polishing and proofreading for numerous typos, this steadily unfolding novel could draw a broad audience captivated by money, marriages, the mafia, and moral dilemmas.