They Only Wear Black Hats by Edward Izzi is a modern crime novel that will grab readers right from the title. The title successfully generates the right amount of curiosity, and relevance while maintaining a theme that can be seen throughout the major sequences in the novel.
This gripping story begins in a high school setting and the language can give readers the illusion of a contemporary breezy read. Soon however readers will realize its anything but a cozy mystery novel. This captivating story wastes no time in lettings the readers know that it’s going to be a dark and intense journey filled with toe curling twists and heartbreaks.
This thrilling story is fast paced with the murders of many young children containing explicit descriptions of their mutilation and death. Detective Palazzola grows frustrated with the lack of convictions on these murder cases yet has no recourse for the problem. One night he learns of the secret group called the Archangels. They step in when the law has failed to enact justice for the victims. A single black bowler hat left at the scene of each vigilante killing, the only clue to what is going on. This vigilante group however has vowed to put an end to anyone that tries to stop them from their mission of enacting justice to the victims.
The plot is enthralling, and the flow is brilliant with concise chapters that keeps you invested and intrigued throughout. The narration is also nonlinear and shifts from the perspective of Detective Palazzola to an omniscient third person narrator. The surprising story gives you small but significant details about each victim in such a way that you feel the sadness and root for justice to happen.
They Only Wear Black Hats will keep readers of suspenseful crime mysteries hooked from the opening lines. Those that want a fast-paced thriller will not be disappointed.
Pages: 333 | ASIN : B09LQ9JPP1
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Detective Mike Palazzola of Detroit’s Third Precinct is good at catching the bad guys, especially those who commit brutal, heinous crimes. But after several mishandled criminal cases, he becomes increasingly frustrated with the judicial system and its prosecutors. The alleged murderers he worked so hard to capture and indict are either dismissed on a legal technicality, exonerated, or given lenient sentences by the court system.
While having dinner with a friend at Detroit’s Roma Café, he stumbles upon a secret gathering of members who have been passing out their own brand of justice since 1927…members who always wear black bowler hats.
The Malizia Society of Detroit or “The Archangels” as they like to call themselves, have their own stable of executioners. They meet, decide, and pass out their own private brand of justice against those malicious criminals whom the judicial system can no longer indict. He later learns that one of the county prosecutors, Kevin Scanlon, is a member of this secret society.
As Detective Palazzola and his reporter friend, Justine Cahill begin to investigate these ‘Black Bowler Hat’ murders, the FBI steps in. They now have a society member who has become a government informant, and the Feds are confident that they can get an indictment against this secret society. They ask the cops and the media to back off, not wanting anyone to jeopardize their investigation.
But the Archangels are now out of control, and are eliminating any disgruntled society members, lawyers, and even reporters who threaten to make public and expose their secret manifesto of ‘mortal redemption’.
Victims are now showing up dead, by strangulation or by self-inflicted ‘suicide’. Palazzola knows exactly who these killers are, but there isn’t anything he can do.
And with every Archangels murder, at every crime scene…there lays a black, bowler hat.
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The Buzz Boys is the tragic and haunting tale of the lives and losses of the self-proclaimed Buzz Boys. Told predominantly from the perspective of Robby Mazzara, the reader witnesses the horrifying events that occur and the dire choices the characters make. The story gets progressively more haunting and tragic as the boys grow up and are unable to reconcile their past abuse and disappointment. The reader’s heart will surely ache for the boys and their loved ones who all struggle as a result of both the boys’ past and their inability to come to terms with it.
The Buzz Boys is written with such care and dedication that readers will feel as though they are watching a movie with incredible detail and precision. The writing is detailed and tasteful despite the horrific and brutal events and subjects discussed. Small details and peeks into the thoughts of the characters will help readers understand the seeming explosion of events that culminates in a series of deaths and suicides. The author also captures the difficult transition from childhood to adulthood very well. The children and their idiosyncrasies and immature beliefs are well-done and draw the reader into their little world which erodes as they grow up. The voice and tone of the story suits the material well and there are many quick twists and turns that take the reader by surprise. In the voice and tone of the novel, the author also manages to make each Buzz Boy distinct and lovable which makes their downfall all the more distressing.
The Buzz Boys had me hooked from the first page and I felt all of the characters’ pain and despaired with them. It is a tale that reflects a lot of the more upsetting aspects of life and brings awareness to childhood trauma and the far-reaching effects on victims and their families. This book will take readers on an emotional journey both beautiful and full of joy and sorrow. I highly recommend it.
Pages: 339 | ASIN: B091383PC2
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When a Rook Takes a Queen is a fascinating high-steaks political thriller following intriguing characters trying to gain control of Chicago. When the progressive mayor of Chicago is murdered just outside her home, the hit is a mystery. Nonetheless, the race is on between the most powerful members of Chicago’s society to gain control of the city and its inhabitants. Another high stakes race is also on to figure out who killed the mayor and the violence plaguing the city. Intrepid reporter, Lawrence McKay is on the case with his sharp-witted staff, but it seems there is also another brave journalist competing for the same story, one beautiful Talia Bowerman. As if there was not enough trouble in the city, mob boss, Tony DiMatteo, has big plans for his territory and with the help of a crooked priest at his side, he might succeed.
When a Rook Takes a Queen is full of wonderful details and twists that haunt the reader through every page. The details and small nuances are not too wordy, yet provide essential pieces of atmosphere and mood that allow the reader to feel as though they are observing events in real time with the characters. One of the additional aspects of the novel that makes it so unpredictable is that all of the characters appear to believe themselves to be making the best choices or doing the right thing, which makes it difficult to determine who is a “good guy” or not. There are many storylines woven together in the book that are told in exquisite detail, weaving together a narrative with just enough dramatic irony to excite the reader without giving the plot away.
The novel also shows a surprising reflection on the real world of politics and policing in large cities such as Chicago. The book showcases the strained relations between minority groups that have been systematically oppressed and officials who too often are not held accountable for their actions without villainizing either side. Although the conflict between these two groups is not the heart of the book, it is addressed with respect and understanding in these relevant times.
When a Rook Takes a Queen is suspenseful, enrapturing, and at times, humorous. It will surely keep readers up at night as I was. It is a book that examines both the cold cruel world of politics and the very human and vulnerable people in that race. I highly recommend this book for a bit of escapism and intrigue.
Pages: 403 | ASIN: B08RY8G4L3
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A Rose from the Executioner by Edward Izzi is a fast-paced and gripping crime thriller that takes a deep and cynical look at the corruption that runs rampant within the Catholic church against the backdrop of Chicago and Italian-American mafia. As someone who grew up in the Catholic Church and since left it, in part to disillusionment with the clergy’s corruption and scandals, I am definitely the right demographic for Izzi’s novel, but it is one that can be enjoyed by Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
The novel follows Detective Phil Dorian, a police officer in the Chicago Police Department that’s looking for a serial killer who is targeting former priests in Chicago. As Dorian begins his work to uncover the murderer, he finds himself digging into the underworlds of the secretive Italian-American mafia, the shockingly corrupt Catholic clergy, and an ancient, secret brotherhood dedicated to pursuing an illicit mission. Dorian himself is a strong and likable protagonist – he is a well-seasoned detective, and I enjoyed the passages where he uses his detective powers to progress the case. He seems like someone you might really know in your own life, and Izzi does a good job of creating a complicated, multifaceted lead for this novel. The supporting characters of the novel are enjoyable too, and I particularly enjoyed the passages with the mysterious and often sinister Monsignor Kilbane, whose power and corruption seem to have no end. However, I felt that the lead female character, the stunning and intelligent Olivia Laurent, was not as developed as she should have been. Olivia is described with the same handful of adjectives throughout the novel, most of which focus on how good she looks in tight blue jeans.
A Rose from the Executioner succeeds in its creative plot and with its strong protagonist. The plot itself is interesting and progresses at a fast clip to keep readers engaged. I also enjoyed how Izzi played with time, throwing in flashback scenes throughout the novel to serve as a prelude for what was to come in later chapters. However, I didn’t like how some words were unnecessarily in air quotes, and I found it to be distracting.
All in all, I feel that A Rose from the Executioner is an entertaining read. I never felt bored while reading it, and the characters were unique but realistic, and I felt as if I knew some of them personally by the end of the book. I also appreciated that Izzi put the Catholic Church’s leadership under pressure and did not whitewash their crimes, acknowledging the ubiquity of the corruption and ill deeds that have been done over the centuries.
Pages: 422 | ASIN: B07N57FBML
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When Chicago mobster Don Carlo Marchese is found hanging from the 18th story window of the Blackstone Hotel, Reporter Paul Crawford of the Chicago Sun Times is assigned to investigate. He finds out that Don Carlo was brokering art works for the Vatican’s Pope Emeritus Hinorius V (Josef Cardinal Schroder). Because of all the innumerate sexual molestation lawsuits that have been settled by many archdioceses’ internationally, the Vatican has been in dire need of money, and began the process of liquidating Vatican Museum artworks. Last July, Hermann Kalkschmidt, the son of a former Nazi officer, is found dead in his Munich apartment. Hidden in his attic for the last seventy-five years, are forty-two paintings stolen by the Nazis from Florence’s Uffizi Gallery in 1943. His second cousin, Chicago art dealer Wolfgang Schmidt is suspected of having his cousin killed by the professional assassin Stefano Iannucci for possession of these paintings. The Pope Emeritus, “Papa Onorio” believes that these stolen paintings really belong to the Vatican Museum. He decides to try to recover the stolen art collection, believing that their recovery back to Rome would restore his abysmal public image. He turns to Chicago mobster Don Carlo Marchese to retrieve these works of art.Apparently, Pope Pius XI consigned the valuable art collection to Mussolini back in 1938, to be stored in safekeeping at the Uffizi Museum. He feared that if Hitler ever invaded Rome, the Vatican artworks would be looted. But in November 1943, the opposite occurred. Florence was invaded, and the Nazis discovered 103 Jewish refugee hiding in one of Florence’s basilicas. The paintings were traded to the Nazis for the lives of these Jews, who were supposed to be transported to Switzerland. They were sent to the Auschwitz concentration camps instead.When Marchese double crosses Papa Onorio, he hires “contract killer” Stefano Iannucci to stop at nothing, including murder, to retrieve those paintings. Meanwhile, Florence’s Giammarco crime family is in search of the Uffizi art collection as well, in conflict with the Vatican over their true ownership. Blood and dead bodies start appearing everywhere, from Chicago to Munich to Detroit to Florence, and the search for these paintings, and especially Fra Filippo Lippi’s valuable masterpiece “Demons of Divine Wrath” remain at large.
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Detective Philip Dorian of the 16th Chicago Precinct is called to investigate the serial killing and mutilation of retired, former pedophile priests in the Chicagoland area. It becomes later discovered that Monsignor Joseph Kilbane, chief of staff to the Cardinal, had previously approached his childhood friend, Anthony ‘Little Tony’ DiMatteo to lend him a “hit man’ to commit the murders of these pedophile ex-priests for their insurance money. Although the plot sounds interesting, Little Tony isn’t interested, and the Monsignor abandons the idea. During the reigns of prior Chicago bishops and cardinals over the last fifty years, many of these former pedophile priests were allegedly, forced to resign and sheltered away from criminal prosecution, with the caveat that they allow the Archdiocese of Chicago to be the beneficiary of their large life insurances policies. These policies were taken out on these former priests ‘as a form of penance for their lives of being sexual predators’. With the innumerate sexual child abuse lawsuits that have been currently filed and settled by the Archdiocese, they are now on the brink of bankruptcy. A serial killer is now out there, and Monsignor Kilbane has no idea who is perpetrating these gruesome homicides, essentially framing him and the Archdiocese for these “Pedophile Priest Murders”.
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Dr. David Fazio is a maternity physician at Chicago-Western Medical Hospital. He is a handsome, divorced baby doctor who has more than his share of personal flaws. But Dr. Fazio has one good moral quality going for him: He is a pro-life obstetrician. In a state where late term abortions are now legal, he is being strongly encouraged by the hospital to perform abortions to any patient requesting one.Dr. Fazio has one other problem…he has horrific sleep issues and has been known to be a sleepwalker. He wakes up one morning with severe burns on his hands, while a family planning clinic one block away has burned down to the ground with casualties. The authorities are now suspicious, as the “Abortion Arsonist” is burning down clinics in Chicagoland, and Dr. Fazio has no clue who it is.Every time Dr. Fazio sleeps, he has no concept of where he’ll wake up or any memory of what damage ha may have done the night before…
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