Spotlight Review: LOYALTY by Lisa Scottoline

From the publisher:

#1 bestselling author Lisa Scottoline presents Loyalty, an emotional, action-packed epic of love and justice, set during the rise of the Mafia in Sicily.

Loyalty can save a soul—or destroy one.

    Franco Fiorvanti is a handsome lemon grower toiling on the estate of a baron. He dreams of owning his own grove, but the rigid class system of Sicily thwarts his ambition. Determined to secure a better future, Franco will do anything to prove his loyalty to the baron. But when the baron asks him to kidnap a little boy named Dante, Franco makes a decision that will change his life—and even the history of Sicily—forever.

    Gaetano Catalano is an idealistic young lawyer whose devotion to justice is tantamount to a calling. He’s a member of the Beati Paoli, a real-life secret society of aristocrats who investigate crime in Palermo, a city riddled with graft. Gaetano sets out to find the boy and punish the kidnapper, but his mission leads him to a darker place than he had ever imagined.

    Meanwhile, Mafalda Pancari is a new mother rejoicing at the birth of her daughter, Lucia, when disaster strikes. And Alfredo D’Antonio is a reclusive goatherd under constant threat of being discovered as a Jew. How the lives of these unforgettable characters collide makes Loyalty an epic tale of good versus evil, as the story twists and turns to its monumental showdown.

    Readers will be transported to the dramatic and ruggedly beautiful island of Sicily, the jewel of the Mediterranean, where lush lemon groves and mouth-watering cuisine contrast with a turbulent history of colonization and corruption. Scottoline brings her decades of thriller writing to historical fiction, creating in Loyalty a singular novel that no reader will be able to put down.

“Scottoline brings nineteenth-century Sicily alive in this historical thriller…Every scene is a full sensory experience, as Scottoline weaves lemon-scented breezes, the ocean’s sounds, and sun-baked piazza stones into a timeless, tragedy-strewn story of love, power, and redemption. History fans will appreciate the novel’s well-researched foundation, especially concerning the origins of the Sicilian Mafia and early mental-health institutions.” —Booklist (starred)

“Scottoline brings her characters to life, instilling them with wit and intellect as they navigate the corruption of Sicily’s law enforcement. Historical crime fiction fans will be riveted.” —Publishers Weekly

I love Lisa Scottoline – she is an incredible writer and a truly special human being. Many years ago, I was assigned her book Killer Smile for review at Library Journal. I loved that book and gave it a starred review. I was working for the Palm Beach County Library System at the time when one of my co-workers came running up to me to say I had a phone call, and it was Lisa Scottoline. Everyone was jumping up and down with excitement! We’d never had a New York Times bestselling author call our library, and everyone followed me to the back so I could take the call. Lisa called to thank me for my review, which had never happened before (or since!) I had never met her, but I did several years later at a library convention. And she remembered me! It was just the most surreal experience. I’ve met her several times since then, and she did a standing-room-only book talk for my library. A truly remarkable human being I am proud to call a friend.

With that out of the way, yes I can still do an unbiased review of her books, mostly because as I pointed out when I started this review, she is an incredible writer. She takes complicated stories like this one and makes them not only engrossing reading, but seriously unputdownable. I dreamt about these characters during the two nights I spent reading this book.

The publisher provided a good synopsis, and I don’t want to muddy the waters except to say that these characters propel the story and will be staying with me for a long time. Sicily is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, and Scottoline brings that beauty to the page in addition to all the drama – but it’s the drama that is at the heart of this story. Book groups will find a lot to discuss here as well.

I hope you’ll read it and love it as much as I did.

4/2023 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

LOYALTY by Lisa Scottoline.‎ G.P. Putnam’s Sons (March 28, 2023). ISBN:‎ 978-0525539803. 432 p.



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