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Omerta is the Sicilian code of silence, and the title of Puzo's book. The book essentially looks at the consequences of violating the omerta code, which is the basis of power and security for the Italian Mafia. In Omerta, Mario Puzo tells the tale of the Apriles, a mafia family trying to establish some form of legitimacy in a community filled with criminals.
Don Raymonde Aprile is an aging man, seeking to retire from the world of organized crime. He made sure that his children were kept at a distance from the underworld. Each of them had grown up to be a distinguished member of society. His eldest son is a military officer. His second son was a television network executive, and his daughter was a respectable attorney. In order to protect his children from the shadows of the mafia yet maintain a foothold within their establishment, Don Aprile appoints a "nephew" named Astorre Viola. Viola is an unlikely mafiosi. He is an importer of macaroni, and enjoys recording ballads.
One day, while attending his grandson's communion, Don Aprile is murdered in a drive-by shooting. Rival, Timmona Portella attempts to negotiate the sale of Don Aprile's banks. However, Viola who controls a majority of the shares, declines Portella. Don Aprile's children react by wanting to be as far away from this "banking" as possible. With the passage of time, all three realize that their father had established "legitimate" banking procedures which would secure their financial futures. The also begin to suspect their "cousin" Viola, and wonder why their father left him with a majority of the shares.
One by one, Viola seeks out all the possible suspects who might be responsible for his uncle's death. Meanwhile, FBI special agent Kurt Clike is now involved with the case. Agent Clike has a successful history of garnering witnesses to violate the Sicilian code in exchange for federal protection. Clike and his team mount a campaign to eliminate the Mafia. Viola and the Apriles are caught in the middle of a war in which it is hard to figure out who to trust and who to avoid.
Omerta was first published in 2000.
About Mario Puzo
Mario Puzo was an author, and screenwriter of Italian-American descent. Some of his other books include The Godfather, Fools Die, The Family, The Fourth K, and Inside Las Vegas.
Puzo was a graduate of City College of New York. After briefly serving in the United States Army Air Forces, he worked as an editor for a magazine management company. Puzo's The Godfather, was turned into a blockbuster film by director Francis Ford Coppola. He won the Academy Award For Best Screenplay. During his lifetime, he wrote numerous novels, screenplays, and short plays. Mario was married to Erika, and together they had five children. Puzo passed away on July 2, 1999, due to heart failure.