Title: The Scarpacci Files
Authors: J.J. Caniglia
Retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Date of Publication: May 25, 2020
Length: 242 pages
Genre: Crime Action & Adventure; Suspense Action Fiction
Collective Favorite Quote: “How do you expect to get respect from others when you don’t even respect yourself?”
Sensitivities: Language, Violence, Prejudice
Other Books in the Series: N/A
Disclaimer: There may be some spoilers in our detailed banter below:
Today we will be reviewing The Scarpacci Files by author J.J. Caniglia.
Please see above for more details on the book.
Book Blurb from Amazon:
A family, living in Carlentini, Sicily, is tired of living the life of a poor farmer. The countryside is beautiful. The ocean, amazing. Yet, the area is as poor as it can be. Times get hard and feeding the family becomes almost impossible. The Scarpacci family decides to move their children to the prosperous lands of America. The new world is much different than the old country. Life is harder, the work is harder, but the money comes easier. They are immigrants so they don’t make as much as an English born American. Still, the freedom that they seek is everywhere if one is willing to work for it, yet it comes with a price.
The Black hand organization runs these streets. The little Italy neighborhood on the south side of Omaha hasn’t been the same since they moved in. They terrorize the neighborhood, extorting everyone and killing anyone who resists. One man falls short of his monthly payments and began to fall behind. After months of nonpayment, he ends up paying the ultimate price, his life. Retaliation is a must. His two sons, Yano and Gino, must react. However, they are too young. Who will do something? Will other neighbors stand up against the organization and fight back, or will they continue to murder and destroy the neighborhood? Someone must stand up and stop them before it’s to [sic] late and the entire neighborhood burns to the ground.
What was your initial reaction to finding this book on our list?
Bridgette – I was surprised to find this book on our list. Crime action and adventure genre is one we have not reviewed before. I was intrigued by Amy’s pick; however, I love crime action and adventure movies. I am a sucker for mafia movies like The Godfather Trilogy, Scarface, Casino, The Departed, and so many more. So, I was excited to find out what a book set in my local hometown would bring in this genre.
Amy – It isn’t our usual pick!! I wanted to try something new. I love the idea of checking out some local authors in our city!
Claire – Don’t be Siciliy…a secret organization terrorizing little Italy, murdering innocent people, snapping necks and cashing checks. It all sounded a little too Scorcese to be true but I really enjoyed venturing out of our comfort zone. Kicking the tires on a genre for fellow readers, that kind of thing.
What themes in the story resonate with you as a reader?
Bridgette – Murder and revenge are key themes in this story. The main character is standing up for what he believes in, family. He is a determined and disciplined man in it for the long game. In the end, readers can take away the value of being true to your word and following through with your goals in life.
Amy – Bridgette’s answer hits it right on the nose! I also think family is a strong theme here.
Claire – I can’t help but reiterate the aforementioned answers, obviously. However, right out of the gate the readers watch Yano and Gino flirt with the boundaries of what is right and what they think is necessary. This is a great case study in the journey of character development, good or bad, and how morality factors into every decision someone makes. After all, Yano demonstrated that if you’re walking on ice, you may as well dance. And he danced all the way to a seemingly one-way trip to the grey bar hotel.
How did the structure of the book affect the story?
Bridgette – This book reads like a retelling of events in a history book. There is a clear progression of the story centered around the events happening to various characters. The story was told in a third person point of view not limited to one single point of view, rather the story provides insight to readers from each character introduced throughout. The events also happen quite quickly and you have to be on top of your game to keep up. This is not a book looking to slowly introduce characters or events to draw it out into a six part series. Personally, I prefer either a single first person perspective or dual first person perspective. When I am given background thoughts, feelings, and futures of each character I start to find it difficult to keep them all straight.
Certainly any story with Italians will be centered around characters who are difficult to keep straight because of their names, “Gino, Yano, Enzo, Angelo, Antonio”. Those Italians sure like to end their names in ‘o’.
Amy – The POV chosen for this book was confusing, I think you have to pay close attention when reading this book. I would have liked more clarity as to which character we were following. It was exciting to have so many different angles to the story. I really liked that the author gave us a little bit of each character.
Claire – I enjoy multiple perspectives in a book because it allows for a more in-depth look into character motivations, mannerisms, behaviors, and traits. There were many key characters to follow in this novel so the transition between points of view was helpful, so long as you keep up with all the action. Also, don’t get me wrong, I love names. They’re kind of a package deal with consciousness but there were a lot of names to keep track of so be prepared for some light note taking.
Which character did you relate to the most? What about the character led you to feel a connection?
Bridgette – I think I felt a connection with Patrick, who died before his time. He was of Irish descent, much like myself, and allowed too many people to push him around.
Amy – This is a tough one! I’m not one for murder and mayhem, haha! I would have to say…. Fina, she didn’t play a big part but she was the boy’s mother. She loved them and did what she could to provide for them.
Claire – Rosaria seemed like the one character that stayed out of the drama and was really only forced into the mess by consequence of her brother’s actions. I can relate. Still, she has suffered a lot of trauma from a young age and it would be an interesting take to have a spinoff of her kicking mafia butt and taking names.
Why do you think the author chose to tell this story?
Bridgette – From reading the About the Author section, it is clear the themes within this book are near and dear to J.J. Caniglia’s heart as a local Omaha, Nebraska native and descendent of an Irish/Sicilian family. When you read this book you will see the passion he has for writing this genre through the details he uses throughout his writing. Contained within this 242 page book is a story packed with plenty of action and suspense for readers.
Amy – I believe it all comes down to family roots. I am sure J.J. put some heart into this book. I can only imagine coming from an Irish/Sicilian family; the history and stories you heard as a child, could fascinate anyone. Coming to America to make a better life, getting here and it being such hard work and being a minority couldn’t be easy. J.J. was able to take some history and add some mafia style action into this tale.
Claire – I imagine the author probably had a strong desire to tell a captivating, serious story with heavy themes related to familial relations and bonds and how these can lead to the triumph or demise of a character. He kept the plot local which made it an intriguing read since Omaha is my hometown. The action is quick and so is the writing. J.J. Caniglia wrote with authenticity, dedication, and thought that produced a unique and rapid story.
What questions are you left with after finishing the book? Is it set up for another book?
Bridgette – I would enjoy having more background on Don Talapini and his ‘Black hand’ organization. What were his motivations? How did he rise to the top? Did he serve another on top of him, as so many others do? I would imagine this man has a story to tell all of his own. This background could also give Arabella more screen time which will give me solace knowing whether or not she truly loved Yano.
Amy – I don’t know if I have questions about the book per say but I am interested in hearing more from the author and how he was able to create this story. Did he research crime in Little Italy Omaha and take it and mold it into his story? Is it completely made up? I have questions! 😂 I think it could be left alone, or spin off into what happens next.
Claire – This novel is certainly set up for another book, possibly a small series. Angelo and Vinnie are going to turn over a new leaf on organized crime, and by turning over a new leaf, I mean they will burn it all down. They will be hunting overdue library books here soon. As far as questions I have after completion of the book, I would like to know more about the Scarpacci family background in Italy and about Enzo and Fina’s roots. I like the idea of a subsequent novel focusing on a similar plot in Italy, years ago.
What type of reader do you suggest pick up this book?
Bridgette – I think this book is most appropriate for mature adults who are appropriate to read the violence and language within the story. If you are the type of person who enjoys mafia books, or even movies, you will find The Scarpacci Files an exciting read. Not to mention, Omaha locals will love the connection to their city.
Amy – You need to be grown for this one! It has a lot of violence and language. If you enjoy stories about the Mafia then this is a good one to check out, and anyone who loves supporting our local community should check out this Omaha native.
Claire – If you like crime and you have the time and you can handle a little bit of grime, you will enjoy this book. As mentioned, it is fast-paced with differing perspectives so things progress quickly but it is a dramatic, swift read with intense characters and scenes that will have you questioning the motives of practically everyone.
Thanks for reading. Comment below if you have read The Scarpacci Files by author J.J. Caniglia or if you are going to put it on your TBR!
Disclosure: We are in no way affiliated with the author and are not being compensated for this review.
Amy & Bridgette & Claire