cover image A Quiet Vendetta

A Quiet Vendetta

R.J. Ellory. Overlook, $25.95 (464p) ISBN 978-1-59020-508-2

The kidnapping of 19-year-old Catherine Ducane, daughter of Louisiana governor Charles Ducane, and the brutal murder of her driver set the stage for this absorbing crime novel from Ellory (A Simple Act of Violence) covering more than 50 years of mob violence and American history. When the FBI agrees to Ernesto Perez’s request to bring Ray Hartmann of the New York district attorney’s office to New Orleans, Perez turns himself in. Perez promises to reveal Catherine’s whereabouts, but first he must tell his life story as a Mafia hit man to Hartmann. Perez recounts a journey that includes his involvement in at least 19 murders and the mob’s links to such figures as the Kennedys, Richard Nixon, and Marilyn Monroe. Perez’s goal remains a mystery, as does his selection of Hartmann as his audience, up to the end of this brilliantly conceived tale of greed, politics, family loyalties, and vengeance. Only the occasional passage of florid prose spoils the performance. Agent: Euan Thorneycroft. (Jan.)