Summary and book reviews of Omerta by Mario Puzo


by Mario Puzo

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  • First Published:
    Jul 2000, 316 pages
    May 2001, 384 pages

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Book Summary

The final chapter in Mario Puzo's landmark Mafia trilogy (The Godfather and The Last Don)

The Final Chapter in Mario Puzo's Landmark Mafia Trilogy

Mario Puzo spent the last three years of his life writing Omerta, the concluding installment in his saga about power and morality in America. In The Godfather, he introduced us to the Corleones. In The Last Don, he told the wicked tale of the Clericuzios. In Omerta, Puzo chronicles the affairs of the Apriles, a family on the brink of legitimacy in a world of criminals.

Don Raymonde Aprile is an old man wily enough to retire gracefully from organized crime after a lifetime of ruthless conquest. Having kept his three children at a distance, he's ensured that they are now respectable members of the establishment: Valerius is an army colonel who teaches at West Point, Marcantonio is an influential TV network executive, and Nicole is a corporate litigator with a weakness for pro bono cases to fight the death penalty. To protect them from harm, and to maintain his entrée into the legitimate world of international banking, Don Aprile has adopted a "nephew" from Sicily, Astorre Viola, whose legal guardian made the unfortunate decision to commit suicide in the trunk of a car. Astorre is an unlikely enforcer--a macaroni importer with a fondness for riding stallions and recording Italian ballads with his band.

Though Don Aprile's retirement is seen as a business opportunity by his last Mafia rival, Timmona Portella, it is viewed with suspicion by Kurt Cilke, the FBI's special agent in charge of investigating organized crime. Cilke has achieved remarkable success in breaking down the bonds between families, cultivating high-ranking sources who in return for federal protection have violated omerta--Sicilian for "code of silence," the vow among men of honor that, until recently, kept them from betraying their secrets to the authorities.

As Cilke and the FBI mount their campaign to wipe out the Mafia once and for all, Astorre Viola and the Apriles find themselves in the midst of one last war, a conflict in which it is hard to distinguish who, if anyone, is on the right side of the law, and whether mercy or vengeance is the best course of action.

Rich with suspense, dark humor, and the larger-than-life characters who have turned Mario Puzo's novels into modern myths, Omerta is a powerful epitaph for the Mafia at the turn of a new century, and a final triumph for a great American storyteller.

First there was . . .

The Godfather
"A staggering triumph. Mario Puzo has achieved the definitive novel about a sinister fraternity of crime." ---Saturday Review

Then there was . . .

The Last Don
"Head-long entertainment, bubbling over with corruption, betrayal, assassinations, Richter-scale romance, and, of course, family values." ---Time

Now prepare to take the vow of your life . . .

"Pop entertainment at its best . . . .The final volume of Puzo's sensationally popular Mafia trilogy, completed shortly before his recent death, explores in characteristically slam-bang fashion the consequences of a violation of the Sicilian 'code of silence' (omerta) on which Mafia security and power are based. . . . A fabulously plotted crossfire of intrigue, betrayal and murder.
--Kirkus Reviews (starred)



IN THE STONE-FILLED VILLAGE of Castellarnmare del Golfo facing the dark Sicilian Mediterranean, a great Mafia Don lay dying. Vincenzo Zeno was a man of honor, who all his life had been loved for his fair and impartial judgment, his help to those in need, and his implacable punishment of those who dared to oppose his will.

Around him were three of his former followers, each of whom had gone on to achieve his own power and position: Raymonde Aprile from Sicily and New York, Octavius Bianco from Palermo, and Benito Craxxi from Chicago. Each owed him one last favor.

Don Zeno was the last of the true Mafia chiefs, having all his life observed the old traditions. He extracted a tariff on all business, but never on drugs, prostitution, or other crime of any kind. And never did a poor man come to his house for money and go away empty-handed. He corrected the injustices of the law-the highest judge in Sicily could make his ruling, but if you had right on your side, Don...

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Media Reviews - Allen Barra

Puzo's last novelization is garbage even by the semi-literary standards of "The Godfather," a book that did more than anything else to create a myth of the all-powerful Sicilian-American crime syndicate.


It is an engaging story, well told, well written, and thoroughly satisfying, and as the departed Puzo's last book, proves a fitting end to a memorable career.

Publishers Weekly

This is pulp raised to art and a worthy memorial to the author, who one last time makes readers an offer they can't refuse.

Library Journal

Puzo was a storyteller to the end, spending the last three years of his life writing Omerta, which in Sicilian means "honor." The final installment of Puzo's mob-related tales (following The Godfather and The Last Don), this fast-paced story is one of honor kept and broken, of Old World values and contemporary New World business/political ethos. When retired New York Mafia Don Aprile is assassinated on the steps of St. Patrick's Cathedral, the FBI, local detectives, rival families, and even his grown children are suspected. It falls on Aprile's adopted nephew Astorre to find the killers and see that "justice" is served. Astorre, who has been running a macaroni import company and has a passion for singing, must decide if and how to avenge the don's death and bring honor and security back to the family, which is on the brink of legitimacy. In his other novels, Puzo explored the moral unraveling of his key characters, and he does so again with the charismatic Astorre, a character with many contradictions and surprises. Omerta is written nearly as sparsely as a screenplay. It's as if Puzo knew he wouldn't be around to do that job also, as he did with The Godfather (winning an Academy Award in the process). Highly recommended.

Reader Reviews


"Grande" piece of work.
Omerta has been one of the best produced books of "DON PUZO". I was spellbounded right from the inception of the book. At some instances I felt that I am stationed in Siciliy and witnessing the act by my naked eyes. Marvellous piece of work...   Read More


One of the greatest books
This is one of the greatest books I have ever read in my life. I couldn't stop reading it. There is no doubt in my mind that if you liked "The Godfather" then you will LOVE "Omerta"!

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