Review

The Godfather's Revenge

by Mark Winegardner



First of all, let's give the proper praise to Mark Winegardner for
even attempting a project such as THE GODFATHER'S REVENGE and its
predecessor, THE GODFATHER RETURNS. It is easy to forget that there
initially was but one novel, THE GODFATHER by Mario Puzo, which
begat the film adaptation of the same name, as well as two sequels
that dealt with events occurring several years subsequent to the
book and to each other. The result is a pair of chronological gaps
that Winegardner has tried mightily to fill, with varying degrees
of success.

THE GODFATHER'S REVENGE takes place in the early 1960s, at a point
roughly midway between the events chronicled in the films
Godfather, Part II and the under-appreciated Godfather,
Part III
. The Michael Corleone we meet here is a deeply unhappy
and disturbed man. He is haunted by strange visions of Fredo, his
simple, lovable brother who he had assassinated for a minor
betrayal. Also disturbing Corleone is a living ghost --- Nick
Geraci, a formerly loyal Corleone soldier who Corleone ordered
sacrificed in a power play. Geraci escaped and, from an improbable
hiding place, plots revenge and a power grab. Soon any setback
occurring to a Corleone-connected business is attributed to Geraci,
even as he seems to have a guardian angel protecting --- and
watching --- his every move.

Perhaps the greatest threat to Corleone's empire, however, comes
from the federal government. President James Shea, a charismatic
Irishman who Corleone backed in his quest for office, seemingly has
turned against Corleone; indeed, Shea's brother Danny, appointed
Attorney General by the President in a brazen and reckless exercise
of nepotism, has begun a very public and effective crusade against
organized crime. Winegardner draws heavily upon the historical
cauldron of the early 1960s while using that period as a thinly
disguised backdrop for the events that both influenced and were
influenced by organized crime in the times and places in which the
book is set.

THE GODFATHER'S REVENGE, like THE GODFATHER RETURNS, will not make
everyone happy; that is a given in a project of such magnitude.
There are indeed flaws here: the narrative is choppy (considering
the wealth of characters and situations here, how could it be
avoided?) and at times Winegardner seems to narratively back and
fill, as if he has suddenly remembered a point that needed to be
mentioned or clarified.

Readers wholly unfamiliar with the Godfather mythos might
experience some rough sledding during certain parts of the book.
But those of us whose familiarity has become a minor obsession will
enjoy this Herculean attempt to fill in the blanks that have
preceded it and make THE GODFATHER'S REVENGE the necessity that it
is.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 22, 2011

The Godfather's Revenge
by Mark Winegardner

  • Publication Date: November 7, 2006
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult
  • ISBN-10: 0399153845
  • ISBN-13: 9780399153846