First thoughts

The Family Corleone

Ed Falco

William Heinemann, €14.99;

Kindle, £7.99

Review: Roddy Brooks

To many the mafia is just a myth — be it Sicily or Chicago, Naples or New York. Say the word mafia and many think of The Godfather.

When Ed Falco took on the monumental task of writing The Family Corleone — based on a screenplay by Godfather author Mario Puzo and billed as a prequel to the trilogy on the ‘family’ — the award-winning author and professor of English at Virginia Tech knew what he was taking on.

To the mafia everything is honour, everything is business and what Falco has crafted is a fitting and well-written scene-setter for Don Vito Corleone and his family, in both senses of the word.

It evokes images of the world, both the old in Sicily and the new in America, bathed in the blood of both the gangsters and the innocents.

For anyone fascinated by America’s criminal underworld, this latest instalment of one of its most infamous fictional families is compelling.

The Moral Molecule: The New Science Of What Makes Us Good Or Evil

Paul J Zak

Bantam Press, £16.99;

Kindle, 8.39

Review: Alycia Wilson

Neuroeconomist Paul J Zak aims to prove how oxytocin, a reproductive hormone, is responsible for evoking feelings of trust and empathy for others. Zak’s research spans more than 10 years and his theories blend the complexities of neuroscience with socioeconomics.

The author believes that morality can be manipulated and that high levels of oxytocin can encourage individuals to be more emphatic and generous to others. However, in one case he does explain that too much generosity can lead to victimisation. For example, Mrs Smith who is classified as a ‘super-truster’ is a poor judge of character and treats everyone as her best friend, including strangers. This inhibits her ability to make logical decisions and explains how she has three children from three different fathers.

Fascinating and engaging.

The Killing

David Hewson

Macmillan, €14.99;

Kindle, £6.99

Review: Emma Everingham Former Sunday Times columnist and award-winning novelist David Hewson has sunk his teeth into the hit series The Killing, and given us an epic crime novel, which is a tie-in to the TV show.

The plot of the book stays very similar to the plot of the original Danish series. It opens with the discovery of a young girl’s body — Nanna Birk Larsen — on the outskirts of Copenhagen, and the case is taken by Detective Sarah Lund (you’ll have to picture her in her infamous jumper as you read). She works on the case alongside Jan Meyer, and the two soon become embroiled in political scandal at Oslo City Hall, police in-fighting, and above all, the hunt for Nanna Birk Larsen’s killer.

Hewson follows the series pretty much word for word. However, he adds a real depth to the characters, as they are allowed to develop more with his words than on the TV screen. The best bit of the whole book is his alternative ending, which is a refreshing twist. It’s a fast-paced crime novel that’s five-star from start to finish.

The Other Half Of Me

Morgan McCarthy

Headline Review, €19.80;

ebook, €8.49

Review: Ben Major The Other Half Of Me is the debut novel by Berkshire writer Morgan McCarthy.

Brother and sister Jonathan and Theo Anthony have a privileged upbringing in Wales, but are somewhat neglected by their family. That is, until their hotel magnate and philanthropist grandmother comes to live with them.

She helps to fill in the details of their family’s enigmatic past as the siblings grow up, go to university and start out in their first jobs. But as they grow older and more curious they discover a darker side to their history that threatens to damage their relationship irreparably.

This is an accomplished debut novel, which captures every tear and smile of the two enthralling main characters as they grapple with life, and McCarthy’s exquisite storytelling points to a promising literary career. I will certainly be keeping an eye out for her next book.


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