THE SEDUCTION OF POWER is Melbourne based author Sergio Scasioli's first book. According to an article in his local newspaper, it was inspired by a passion to write, spurred on by a chance meeting with an inspirational character.
The book is the first in a planned trilogy, described as an "epic tale of the Calabrian Mafia in Australia". Given that it is a debut book, and the first in this trilogy it became important to keep that in mind when reading this opening instalment.
THE SEDUCTION OF POWER is best described as the story of one man - Paolo Valente - who we follow from a difficult childhood in the small Italian Village of Montebello through to his immigration to Australia, and ultimately, his insinuation into the Calabrian Mafia already ensconsed firmly in Melbourne's society.
Less of a story about the Mafia as a whole, although there are cameo appearances of wider La Famiglia components, this story builds a lot of the background of Paolo (or Paul as the Anglicised version of his name becomes). Paul has an unusual childhood to say the least - neglected and very poor, the book gets into his sexual exploits very early on. And they continue right through the story. Constantly. At one point it seemed less about the Seduction of Power and more about the Seduction of everyone Paul came into contact with! Set mostly in Melbourne Australia, although the start of the book is in Italy, there is much that will seem familiar, particularly for a Melbourne based reader - there are references to many locally known landmarks in the Italian community areas throughout the suburbs. There is even some action that seems faintly familiar - perhaps based loosely on real life events, perhaps it is just that there was a feeling of reality about those descriptions. There are some illuminating little glimpses into the mindset of the Italian immigrants, from the insider point of view. Their attitudes and relationships with, in particular, those communities and people already here, was quite an interesting twist.
In terms of the actions of the Mafia themselves, this aspect of the book was perhaps a little lighter on than I was expecting. There are certainly aspects of the activities of the Mafia within the book, but they are very much seen from the aspect of Paul's positioning in that society. This also makes reading this book an interesting challenge - Paul's somebody that is basically amoral. To read this book, you're following his story, and he's not a "hero" or one of the good guys, or even somebody for whom there seems to be much hope of change.
The book does show some promise for the rest of the trilogy but I do confess I would have liked less of Paul's sexual antics, which all got very predictable, and a lot more of the Mafia aspects - the actual goings on in La Famiglia. Hopefully that's where the rest of the trilogy is heading, as I'll keep an eye out for the second book.