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Murder Takes Time Giacomo Giammatteo

A string of brutal murders has bodies piling up in Brooklyn, and Detective Frankie Donovan knows what is going on. Clues left at the crime scenes point to someone from the old neighborhood, and that isn’t good.

Frankie has taken two oaths in his life—the one he took to uphold the law when he became a cop, and the one he took with his two best friends when they were eight years old and inseparable.

Those relationships have forced Frankie to make many tough decisions, but now he faces the toughest one of his life; he has five murders to solve and one of those two friends is responsible. If Frankie lets him go, he breaks the oath he took as a cop and risks losing his job. But if he tries to bring him in, he breaks the oath he kept for twenty-five years—and risks losing his life.

In the neighborhood where Frankie Donovan grew up, you never broke an oath.

    OUR REVIEW

Murder Takes Time: Friendship & Honor Series, Book One (Volume 1) by Giacomo Giammatteo

Reviewed by Chris Phillips

Giammatteo brings new life to the typical detective murder story. He takes the time to develop a complex plot into an attention-capturing tale of intrigue and friends betrayed, remade and destroyed.

It’s not the oath that makes us believe the man, but the man the oath – Aeschylus. This quote begins the tale of a group of friends, perhaps unique in the way all Americans can be. Nicky “The Rat” Fusco, Frankie “Bugs” Donovan, Tony “The Brain” Sannullo, Tommy “Mick” McDermott form the core of this group and Chinski, Suit and Paulie finish out the gang. It seems that there is a destiny for them to be “friends forever” until years later.

“…Friendship means we look out for each other. Nobody ever rats or betrays anyone else…”

“…Honor means nobody fucks with one of us and not the others. We stick up for each other. And it means we don’t run, unless we all run…”

These fateful words and the consequences of making and trying to keep childhood promises provide all the tension for the plot. 20 years after these oaths are made, Frankie is a detective for the Brooklyn Police department. Tony is in heavy with the organized crime family in the same area. Nicky is the ex-con that precipitates the action. Frankie gets called into investigate a series of murders of some apparently unrelated men in the Brooklyn area. He begins to suspect soon that there is much more going on here then just someone being murdered.

Giammatteo writes each chapter from either a third person perspective or from Nicky’s personal accounting of his life with these friends. Due to the neighborhood they grow up in they live under the scrutiny of the local organized crime family, headed up by Mikey “The Face” Fagullo. Tony’s mother, Mama Rosa, and Sister Mary Thomas form the character building parts for the boys as they grow up. These two major influences keep the group active and bouncing around through their teenage years. Girls become something they have to consider but deal with as only kids and teens from this era and society can: clumsily, jerkily and very self-consciously.

As is the case with many such friends, they grow up and choose different paths. They see each other, but individual purposes and ambitions pull them away from each other. Girls, family problems and the lure of money impact the group, splitting them until a crisis arises. The gang maintains the oath for most of this time, until one fateful day when a rival gang comes looking for trouble. There are teen passions, pool cues and guns involved. Ultimately gun fire erupts and lives are changed forever.

In this tale, there is a lot of right, wrong and terribly, frighteningly gray. When the time comes and it is needed for oaths to be remembered, they are forgotten and life is never the same. The murders draw them inexorably together yet again. The common thread shows how badly a betrayal of friends can mess up the men that were always supposed to be oath-bound brothers.

The characters are smoothly real. Giammatteo takes the time to develop them naturally. Each takes their fated place and struggles with the people they become. Of course with this much time to cover there are details that grow in importance with each progressive revelation. The tragedy of the way these lives move brought tears to the eyes of this reviewer. The final betrayal is brokenheartedly realistic.

Although the switching of character and traveling back and forth in time might confuse the reader at first, the progression is for the right reasons and falls into place with a gripping conclusion.

The book is appropriate for adults because of the violence and language. As stated at the beginning of the book this is the first in a series “Friendship and Honor.” This reviewer is eagerly waiting for the next one.