I like true crime books that tell me something about the circumstances and motivations for why people get into the situations that they do. I even like confessional true crime as long as it's not too self-serving or overtly engaged in historical rewriting. But I think I've just discovered that the subject, the crimes, the individuals have to be somebody that I have some sort of knowledge of, or connection with. Be it that they are from the same country, city or state as me, or maybe if it's something that is of universal interest. Alas my interest in the Mafia in Italy is very very limited and that really affected by experience with DON VITO.
Written by author Francesco La Licata along with the youngest son of mafia boss Vito, Massimo Ciancimino, DON VITO is the story of a Mafia boss known as the 'Mayor of the Corleones'. Massimo was the son closest to the former politician, the anointed boy for want of a better description, this book is about the people and the events that he was a very close observer of. The book attempts to shed some light on the details of Don Vito's life, his interactions, his contacts and his influence. There's some glimpses into family life with a man who, on the face of it, seemed emotionally withdrawn, stern, a bully to his family. Massimo seems to have had a life which was very much controlled and directed by a cold and stand-offish man with a mother who was mostly off to the side, perhaps thoroughly inhibited by the man she married.
It's not just Massimo's voice however, there are chapters from other viewpoints, including explanatory overviews from La Licata. I'm really not sure if it was these multiple voices, whether it was partly the interwoven names and names and names that kept being thrown into the narrative, or whether it was just that I was struggling for interest, but I just never quite seemed to be able to get who was who and what they were talking about straight in my head. Terminal confusion reigned from the start of the book to the finish and at the end of it, whilst I felt I'd been told a few things about the goings on in the Ciancimino household and their associates, I was really not too sure that I knew much more about the whys of the Mafia's influence and how somebody like Ciancimino, rather than any other of the Mafia hierarchy, in particular, got to where he did. That could very well have been the reader's fault, but I just found I couldn't get a handle on who or what and there didn't seem to be much attempt at why.
Perhaps this book is one more for observers of Mafia happenings, one more for people that really have an interest in the subject matter. Alas for me, DON VITO never quite engaged, never really told me anything in depth, never really peaked any interest in knowing more about the Mafia at all.