I get a fair number of books in the mail, but I generally don’t read them, especially if they are political. But a few days ago I got a copy of The Man In Milan, by Vito Racanelli. Vito is a Power Line fan, and the book was inscribed to me and accompanied by a nice letter. So I gave it a try.
Racanelli, to begin with, is a knowledgeable guy, a writer for Barron’s whom we have linked to in that capacity, and formerly the Associated Press/Wall Street Journal Bureau Chief in Italy. The Man In Milan has much to do with Italy, but it begins in New York City, in the year 2002, when an Italian national is murdered and NYPD detectives Paul Rossi, the book’s narrator, and Hamilton P. Turner are assigned to investigate.
As the plot unfolds, it becomes clear that Rossi and Turner are up against something far more substantial than the usual run of homicides. There are more murders, and the investigation ultimately takes Rossi and Turner to Italy–in particular, to the small island of Ustica, off the coast of Sicily. In Italy, the New York cops struggle to figure out who is on the side of justice and who is “dirty”–in that country, apparently, a populous group.
The plot involves a real incident, the destruction of an Italian airliner in 1980, a mystery that is still unsolved. In The Man In Milan, the ultimate villain is a shadowy cabal of bankers and politicians. I would say that the plot, if implausible, is not unusually so.
The main protagonist, Paul Rossi, is a likable character, divorced and a recovering alcoholic. He is of Italian heritage and speaks Italian, which becomes important. The story includes a nice bit of romance along with the usual thriller elements. The Amazon write-up likens Racanelli to Daniel Silva and David Baldacci. I haven’t read Baldacci, but in my opinion The Man In Milan bears little resemblance to Silva. Despite not infrequent episodes of violence, the book has a light, enjoyable touch. I would liken the narrative voice not to Silva, but to my friend Roger Simon.
Mostly, The Man In Milan is highly entertaining. I devoured the book in two or three days. I am pretty sure that if you start The Man In Milan, you will finish the book, and enjoy it. And you may look forward to a sequel, to which the conclusion leaves the door open. You can buy The Man In Milan here.