cover image Savage Kiss

Savage Kiss

Roberto Saviano, trans. from the Italian by Antony Shugaar. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28 (400p) ISBN 978-0-374107-95-6

Saviano’s disappointing sequel to 2018’s The Piranhas continues the story of a youthful Naples organized crime gang. While the author has done heroic investigative reporting of the Camorra crime syndicate, as detailed in his nonfiction book Gomorrah, this effort leans on mob fiction tropes of de rigeur bloodshed, betrayals, and numerous shoot-outs. The Piranhas’ leader, teenager Nicolas Fiorillo, is bent on vengeance after his brother, Christian, was killed by another young thug, Dentino, who has just become a father. Nicolas targets the newborn baby, but his plan to gun down the infant in the hospital nursery is foiled. Nicolas’s continuing quest for revenge, his fears that his group includes a traitor, and his attempts to expand his power make up the bulk of the plot. Nothing here feels remotely fresh, and Saviano fails to facilitate any empathy for his psychopathic antihero, who places his family in jeopardy thanks to a careless error that’s rather convenient to the plot. Awkward translated prose (“On his tongue, he felt the silence that is created between father and son when they make peace.”) is another negative. Admirers of Saviano’s journalism will hope he sticks to nonfiction. (Sept.)