BOOK REVIEW: Blood Washes Blood

Blood Washes Blood: A True Story of Love, Murder, and Redemption Under the Sicilian Sun by Frank Viviano  (Washington Square Press, 2002)

Do you love a juicy murder mystery combined with a journey of self-discovery? To top it off, make it a true story set in Sicily. Frank Viviano, foreign correspondent, pursues the barest of clues to find the truth about his great-great-grandfather’s murder, and subsequent events that allow him to see his own family and past in a new light.

Viviano’s melancholy suits the languid landscapes of rural Sicily, and carried me along, as I hoped for the next breakthrough in his search, celebrated each unexpected revelation taking him a step closer to finding his ancestor’s murderer. Family legends and whispered suspicions draw him beyond the limits of officially documented history, beyond the cultural code of silence, beyond the head-banging disorganization. And once in a while, in the midst of the story’s dark longing, comes a laugh-out-loud moment that breaks the tension and makes the journey bearable. Years of research, of wavering between patience and despair, eventually lead Viviano to a discovery he never imagined

Using the best kind of history—history revealed through personal story—Viviano explores the longer history of Sicily, the development of the Mafia, and the social and political forces that made it prosper.

I have recommended Frank Viviano’s memoir more than any other book about southern Italy that I have read. I’ve loaned out two or three copies, never to be seen again. So I cannot offer to lend you the book, but I do encourage you to read it, and to let me know what you think.

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