cover image Tina, Mafia Soldier

Tina, Mafia Soldier

Maria Rosa Cutrufelli, trans. from the Italian by Robin Pickering-Iazzi. Soho Crime, $24.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-64129-424-9

The life of Tina Cannizzaro, the protagonist of this outstanding Italian noir from journalist and cultural critic Cutrufelli, takes a traumatic turn after she witnesses at age eight the assassination of her mafioso father in 1980s Sicily. By the time she’s a teenager, she has acquired the nickname ’a masculidda (or tomboy) and gained notoriety as the leader of a street gang of teenage boys. Secretly, however, Tina harbors the ambition to be more than just a petty gangster and to earn respect as a full member of Cosa Nostra. Such ambitions come at a price, however, and she ends up in deadly conflict with the mafia clans themselves. Much of Tina’s career is related through the lens of a writer trying to locate her for the subject of a book, and it’s the eventual meeting of the two that brings Tina’s story to its powerful climax. The fully developed characters complement the richly portrayed Sicilian setting, and a lengthy translator’s note provides useful background on the novel’s time and place. Readers interested in strong female characters won’t want to miss this tour de force. (Mar.)