Reviews for Loyalty

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Scottoline turns again from the contemporary suspensers she does so well to historical fiction, this time chronicling the birth of the Mafia. Five-year-old Dante is lured away from his mother during Palermo’s Festival of St. Rosalia in 1810 and imprisoned in the Ospizio di Santa Teresa. The asylum is so hellish that Dante has no idea he’s been shown mercy: Franco Fiorvanti, the ambitious lemon-grove manager who arranged his kidnapping, had been ordered to have him killed. While local attorney Gaetano Catalano calls on his friends in the real-life Beati Paoli to organize a search for the boy as he languishes in the madhouse, Franco, who dreams of starting his own orchard by purchasing some of the land he works from wealthy Baron Zito, tirelessly schemes with and sometimes against his twin brother, Roberto, to amass the necessary resources to achieve his goals. The community he assembles dabbles in many crimes but gradually morphs into a well-oiled protection racket. Over the next 15 years, cheese maker Alfredo D’Antonio struggles to hide his identity as the last Jew in Sicily, and Mafalda Pancari, whose newborn daughter, Lucia, is stigmatized as an albino, abandons her husband and her fair-weather friends to raise the girl on her own. The pattern behind all these subplots is clear enough: examining the perils of both social isolation and social overinvesting of those who place their community above themselves and God. But the tale is so sprawling and filled with so many pop-up outrages and violent deaths that the mastermind behind the kidnapping doesn’t even make it onto the Cast of Characters. Whatever you think, Scottoline’s been so successful that she’s certainly entitled to write more sagas like this one. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.