If there was any list for books that impacted both literary world as well as the movie world, then Godfather must be a top ten contender. Mario Puzo's characters have become legendary both for avid book readers as well as for movie-goers the world over. Mark Winegardner tries to try his hand at taking Puzo's characters to the next level.
Michael Corleone, the Godfather, has long overshot the five years he had asked of his wife to turn all his business into legal ones. Although Michael is having some success, but complete legalization is taking longer than expected. Michael asks his wife Kay for another 5 year term to fulfill his promise.
Although sworn enemies Tattaglias and the Barzinis have been killed and defeated, the gang wars are far from over. Corleones now have the mob in Chicago and their own traitors to deal with. Michael deals with them with an iron hand.
Somewhere down the line Michael becomes diabolical and starts killing his own people for the larger good. This leads to more traitors, most notably, Nick Geraci. Geraci was one of the most trusted men of the Corleone empire and the highest earner at that. But, Michael tries to get him killed for some ulterior motive. Geraci escapes and then the cold war between Geraci and Michael begins.
The good part, neither know that each had tried to get the other killed. Both want the other dead now. So does Michael fulfill the promises of his second five year term as the Godfather? Does Geraci get his revenge? What about the Chicago gang? Check out this novel for the details.
Very few authors are talented enough to take the legacy of another author and enhance it. The Isaac Asimov Foundation for one tries to get such talented authors to enhance the legacy of Sir Isaac Asimov. But to be true most of them fail miserably. Mark Winegardner similarly tries to step into the shoes of Mario Puzo to give his take on Puzo's characters.
For starters the book does seem to have the same flavor. Gruesome murders, backstabbing, lot of sex and crude language. On closer look, the book is more of a farcical copy of the original.
The murders though gruesome, seem to be more about scenario description rather than the actual murders as such. People backstab without any reason. It just seems that they have been put together for fun without any reasoning.
For e.g. Tessio, who was Vito's friend from the beginning, suddenly feels like backstabbing and gets killed. Notwithstanding the fact that Tessio is full fledged veteran of the mob, whereas Michael has around 5 years of background. Too far fetched to be believable. Then for no real reason Michael decides to sacrifice Geraci, his one of the most trusted personnel and top earner. Again, this makes Michael look diabolical whereas in the original Michael was a calculative yet honest man.
Crude language in this book is too under the belt. It seems that Mark wrote this book, then asked the editor that if any line does not contain an F Word then put one in!! Sex also is over the top in the book.
Coming to the plot itself, again it is too flimsy. Why would the smartest don of them all order his best personnel to be killed without any reason? Again, why would he appoint his stupid brother as his underdon without consulting anybody? Again, why would he make someone who tried to kill him a don in his place?
All in all, Mark Winegardner seems to have made a mess of the characters of the original blockbuster by Puzo. Puzo must be turning in his grave if he read this novel.
A poor follow-up to the maestro's legacy. If you loved Godfather, then don't read this book as it would leave a bad after-taste. If you haven't read Godfather, read that instead of this book.
I would give this Mark Winegardner book a two star rating.