Don't Forget the Cannoli

The Wolf: A Novel - Lorenzo Carcaterra



Sometimes you need to live beyond the reach of the law to bring down those who walked its edges.

Well I am a big fan of The Godfather (who isn’t?) so when I read the blurb and a few of the early reviews for this, I was pretty intrigued by the idea of different criminal organizations coming together to bring terrorists to their own brand of justice. The thought of The Yakuza, The Triads, The Greek Mob and La Cosa Nostra coming together to plot against The Russians, The Mexican Cartel and Middle Eastern Fundamentalists… that’s some seriously amazing Happy Hour.

And them going to the mattresses against each other? It’s like pot and kettle-related hostilities over water boiling talents. Fun times. 

I quite enjoyed this book in certain stretches for the creative action sequences and the great tension build up where it was warranted. The scenes in the airport, in the New York streets and the dinner sequence between Vincent and Angela were written with such tautness, the only way it would have been better was if this was written by George RR Martin. I loved Carcaterra’s treatment of the gangster lifestyle, incorporating the societal and cultural values that I loved about The Godfatherwithout romanticizing it. Much.

For a genre that often treats women as either the compassionate matriarch or the token heroine to get killed with a car bomb or the baker of poisoned cannolis, I appreciate the evolution of the female mobster in Angela Jannetti. I was initially wary with her introduction as a beautiful and smart woman because anytime THOSE kinds of heroines get introduced in these kinds of stories, it’s a struggle to keep the eyes from rolling. I’m so glad to be proven wrong over and over as she’s easily one of the most badass heroines I’ve read in contemporary fiction. I will probably pick up the next book just for her given the nature of how things.

But despite the compelling storyline of a mourning father and husband, ruthlessly seeking to avenge his family, I found some parts of The Wolf draggy and redundant. I suppose I did enjoy the attention to gangster historical facts and the art history crash course but it was all delivered in an info dumpy manner that my mind can’t help but wander elsewhere. I found the portrayal of Vincent’s organization’s notoriety redundant in what can only be described as hearsay. I thought I would enjoy the strategic to and fro between both camps but only grew bored with the empty and repetitive self-exaltations from Vincent and Raza’s long and winded soliloquies about life and the privilege of death. It was all too documentary-ish and emotionally sterile and maybe I’m in the wrong for looking for these things in a book like this but with the scenes portraying Vincent as a loving father to his son, I can hardly be blamed to expect some human feels, right? I personally felt very little with the reveal of Raza’s plans and felt it very alienating to some extent. Because while it is quite horrible to contemplate works of art being targeted in a terrorist attack, I’m not quite sure the threat and intimidation would echo as effectively as this was making it to be. 

Unless you’re an Art History Major.

The who’s-the-traitor plot twist and its repercussions were hardly impressive in it’s shock value. It even came across this side of pathetic to be honest, when this was evidently trying to make it seem tragic. It wasn’t.

The OTHER plot twist towards the end was hardly a surprise but does bring a lot of promise to the table for a second book.

So a slight disappointment this one, but I’ve seen the treatment of the Mafia genre done way worse than this. Yes Sempre, I’m looking at you.

Review Copy courtesy of the publishers.