Title: Columbus Avenue Boys: Avenging the Scalamarri Massacre
Author: David Carraturo
Available from: Amazon
I was asked by the author to read and review this book, which is a prequel to Cameron Nation.
I'm a sucker for a good family saga and this novel really delivers. It isn't necessary to read the Acknowledgments at the end to know that the author grew up in the Columbus Avenue area with friends and family that are quite like the ones in the book: that the Columbus Avenue Boys are drawn from real life is evident in the richly populated story. As I read this book, I felt as much at home in Tuckahoe, New York as the author did.
As with any multigenerational family saga, it's sometimes difficult to keep track of who's who and where they belong, but the author provides family trees to help the reader keep everyone straight. Stick with it, because it's worth the effort.
One of the things I like about a good family saga is the historical perspective. The author does a really excellent job of taking the reader on a journey from Italy to America and straight into the life of the Scalamarri family. The details about organized crime made me wonder how much personal experience the author has with that particular aspect of the story. Additionally, the World War II sequences are well researched and well told.
The story alternates between the story of Vincent Scala, the witness to the Scalamarri (Scala) massacre, and the current generation. These changes in time are clearly marked – just pay attention to the dates that mark these changes, or you might get confused. Young Vincent's back story is deftly woven into the lives of older Vincent's children and grandchildren, who now call him Pops. Unaware that association with organized crime had tragic consequences for their family, Sal and Tony start to drift into “the life.” They make a decision to straighten up after Pops tells them about the Scalamarri massacre. Easy to get into, difficult to get out of, they seek the counsel of their good friend, Chris Cameron.
This is not a story about a bunch of Italian mobsters. This is a story of family and friends, love and revenge, and how the past affects the future. I was surprised at the ending; although, in retrospect, I probably shouldn't have been. But I was, anyway. 🙂
This is not a thrill-a-second book, although there are some gruesome scenes. It's not one that kept me up at night because I couldn't wait to reach the end. It's more like a 7-course meal than a fast food meal. I savored it, I enjoyed getting to know the characters, I snuck back to parts I'd already read to make sure I'd soaked in all the details. It has all the elements I enjoy in a book like this: family relations, strong characterizations, a location that comes alive, historical details and a good story line. If you're up for a 7-course meal, you'll enjoy this book.
And finally, the price is right at $1.99 for the Kindle version. Snap it up – at that price, it's a steal.