The Recipe – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; and A Book and A Dish
“I said I’ll get it for you tomorrow,” Sal said shakily. “I promise, I will.” Sweat was pouring down his face. “I promise you, please,” he pleaded, with both palms facing the men in a useless defense. “Not good enough, Sal, you had your last chance. We gotta’ have it tonight. There is no more time. Where is the money? Get up and get it.” He didn’t move. “You don’t have it, do you? You are a liar. Nobody’s gonna’ lie to me. You have made the worse mistake of your life, Sal.” “No, but” – There was a noise coming from the closet and the other man heard it. Anna must have tripped on some clothing and the sound telegraphed through the closed door…… “Please, you guys, I’ll get the money. I’ll bring it to you tomorrow. I’ll bring all of it to the bar plus extra.” The other man jerked the door open and Sal’s wife fell out……. “Please guys don’t do this. I’ll do anything you want,” Sal pleaded. “I told you, it’s too late for your excuses,” threatened Mo, spittle hanging off his lip. “We have to go for a ride; the boss wants to see you,” Mo pulled Sal brutally out of bed and shoved him into the hallway….. A few months later, Sal and his wife Anna were found under the railroad trestle, both dead.
Sal and Anna Santorini had a son named Joey. Thanks to the kind heart of Leonardo Bonino, Joey was taken into his home and treated like a member of the family. Leo’s own son Frankie and Joey became inseparable ‘brothers’ with both watching the other’s back. When Leo, who was a widower, decided to remarry Frankie and Joey gained another brother Mario and a sister Christina. The closeness of the three boys, their desire to protect their sister and the love of Leo and his new wife Colina completed the circle that shaped the Santorini family.
Trouble started when a man who called himself Whitey came around to collect protection money from the shoe shop that Leo and the boys ran. Leo knew the larger, more profitable business were being required to pay for what was being called ‘insurance’ against accidents but until Whitey, the smaller business had been left alone. Determined not to pay, Leo came up with The Recipe. Anything worth doing right required a recipe in Leo’s books and this one would require the perfect ingredients to make the plan work and his recipe required the help of his three sons.
I don’t normally read gangster/mob books and seldom read anything written within the time period of the 1930s through the late 1940s. When I started reading The Recipe I had myself convinced that it was a book that I just might pass on to a friend to read and review for me. I simply wasn’t interested in reading about the mob taking over the neighborhood and fighting within the mob families. I have to admit, I was hooked after the first few pages. Actually reading about the many scams that were pulled surprised me. Not only were there the protection scams but also the real insurance scams where policies were sold to the soldiers and money collected but no real coverage. There was the ‘buy your coal in the summer at a discount’ but no coal delivered in the winter. And one of the worse were those that targeted the widows stating that the deceased owed money on anything from repairs to the house to the purchase of a Bible. This book really kept my interest. But the best part was when the boys finally found a way to strike revenge for the death of Joey’s parents. I must say that they gave out what was deserved.
What did I not like about The Recipe? The ending. It came too quickly. I wanted to keep reading to see what happened next. Will they now become mob leaders or will they try to find a way to live their lives like normal families? I guess Author Joseph Parente will just have to write a sequel so we can all find the answers to my questions.