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Demons of Divine Wrath

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Loved it! 😍

A mafia don is found hanging and a Chicago reporter wants to know more. Priceless art emerges in Germany. The Vatican ties it all together!

Synopsis

When Chicago mobster Don Carlo Marchese is found hanging from the 18th story window of the Blackstone Hotel, Reporter Paul Crawford of the Chicago Sun Times is assigned to investigate. He discovers that Don Carlo was brokering art works for the Vatican’s Pope Emeritus Honorius V.
Hermann Kalkschmidt, the son of a former Nazi officer, is found dead in his Munich apartment. In his attic for the last seventy-five years, are forty-two paintings stolen by the Nazi’s from Uffizi Gallery in 1943.
Pope Pius XI consigned the valuable art collection to Mussolini in 1938, to be stored in safekeeping at the Uffizi Museum. If Hitler ever invaded Rome, he feared, the Vatican artworks would be looted. In November 1943, the opposite occurred. As Florence was invaded, the Nazi's discovered 103 Jewish refugees hiding in Florence's basilicas. The paintings were traded for the lives of these Jews, to be transported to Switzerland. They were sent to Auschwitz instead.
When Marchese double crosses Honorius V, 'contract killer' Stefano Iannucci is hired to stop at nothing to retrieve those paintings.
There are now bodies everywhere, and the search for these paintings and especially, Lippi’s valuable masterpiece ‘Demons of Divine Wrath’ remain at large.

First and foremost, a large thank you to Reedsy Discovery and Edward Izzi for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.


Having stumbled upon Edward Izzi while perusing Reedsy Discovery, I found one of his books that pulled me in and would not let go until I reached the final sentence. Back for more, I thought I would try another of Izzi’s pieces, which has some similar themes and proved to be just as addictive. Don Carlo Marchese, one of Chicago’s most notorious mobsters, is found hanging out the window of his apartment building. This sends shockwaves across the city and journalist, Paul Crawford, is set to investigate. Might this be the latest mob hit in a city full of crime families? Crawford finds nothing, which only furthers his curiosity and has him delve deeper. Meanwhile, an old man dies from an apparent gas leak in Munich, which has his nephew, an art gallery curator, turning up to ensure a vast number of paintings stay in the family. These pieces are all extremely costly and were, at one time, part of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. As the story goes, the Vatican sent a number of their collection to Uffizi, protecting it from the Nazis. However, Hitler had other ideas and duped the gallery into ‘selling’ them for a reasonable cost, allowing Hitler to set-up his own private collection. When Munich police try to press the issue with their Chicago guest, both he and the collection soon vanish. These events reach the ears of the recently retired pope, who has been tasked with reclaiming the Vatican’s works once kept at Uffizi, but not for sentimental reasons. Using their intermediary, Don Carlo Marchese, the Vatican tries to buy back what was rightfully theirs. Paul Crawford trips on some of this information while teamed up with another journalist, traveling to Italy so that he can write the sensational story that culminated in Marchese’s death. With many groups vying for the Uffizi collection, much blood will be shed, but Crawford will have to survive and pen his story to make the sacrifice worth the effort. Addictive until the final sentence, Izzi is an author not to be missed by readers who want something well worth their time. Recommended to those who like a great thriller with historical undertones, as well as the reader who finds mafia stories right up their alley.


It’s nice to discover new authors by accident and even more so when the books are of such high caliber. An accountant by training, Edward Izzi surely has a secret talent for writing, as this is the second of his books that I have devoured. One might presume Paul Crawford is the protagonist in this book, unearthing much as he tries to piece together this most dangerous investigation before becoming a victim himself. While he is stopped repeatedly, told the story has no legs, Crawford forges ahead and pieces things together at breakneck speed. Other characters help develop the numerous plot lines effectively, including those dealing with the mafia and Vatican. They complement and contrast one another so well that the reader will feel as though their are in the middle of the action. Of great interest to me, there are some recurring characters from the other book I read, though their presence is minimal at best. With a strong plot, Izzi is able to tell his story effectively and keep the reader guessing until the very end. His style of writing and quick chapters help pull the reader into the middle of the narrative and does not lose any of its momentum. If I had an issue to address, it would be some chapter organization and labelling, which appears not to be unique to this novel. The story leaps around, running a narrative that needs some reorganization or ‘time labelling’ to help the reader better understand the ongoing progress of the story and how to file it chronologically. Once the reader is well into this piece, they will understand what I mean. Izzi offers a chilling look into the way artwork from the Second World War was handled and how the Nazi pillages resonate even at present, with new fingers getting dirty and seeking to extort.  


Kudos, Mr. Izzi for another stellar novel. I have located your third and will rush to begin it now.


Reviewed by

I love to read and review all sorts of books. My passion is crime and thrillers, but there are so many other genres that pique my attention.

While I am not a full-time reader, I try to dedicate as much time to my passion as possible, as can be seen on my blog and Goodreads.

Synopsis

When Chicago mobster Don Carlo Marchese is found hanging from the 18th story window of the Blackstone Hotel, Reporter Paul Crawford of the Chicago Sun Times is assigned to investigate. He discovers that Don Carlo was brokering art works for the Vatican’s Pope Emeritus Honorius V.
Hermann Kalkschmidt, the son of a former Nazi officer, is found dead in his Munich apartment. In his attic for the last seventy-five years, are forty-two paintings stolen by the Nazi’s from Uffizi Gallery in 1943.
Pope Pius XI consigned the valuable art collection to Mussolini in 1938, to be stored in safekeeping at the Uffizi Museum. If Hitler ever invaded Rome, he feared, the Vatican artworks would be looted. In November 1943, the opposite occurred. As Florence was invaded, the Nazi's discovered 103 Jewish refugees hiding in Florence's basilicas. The paintings were traded for the lives of these Jews, to be transported to Switzerland. They were sent to Auschwitz instead.
When Marchese double crosses Honorius V, 'contract killer' Stefano Iannucci is hired to stop at nothing to retrieve those paintings.
There are now bodies everywhere, and the search for these paintings and especially, Lippi’s valuable masterpiece ‘Demons of Divine Wrath’ remain at large.

Don Carlo Marchese


The traffic on Michigan Avenue was quite busy that sunny, December afternoon, as there were shoppers bustling everywhere to scurry through each fashionable store and retail shop to finish their Christmas shopping. The weather was rather mild for a December day, as the snow had already melted from the last weekend’s snowfall. Every shopper was in the Christmas spirit, as the blaring holiday music was playing everywhere along the exclusive, gold laden sidewalks of Chicago’s most elite boulevard. There were several carolers singing ‘Deck the Halls’ on the corner of Randolph and Michigan Avenues, although they were being drowned out by the Salvation Army volunteers loudly ringing charity bells on every other street corner.

Don Carlo Marchese was downtown in the Chicago Loop doing some last-minute Christmas shopping on that day, as he knew he wouldn’t have time to finish before Christmas Eve in a few days. He usually had his associates finish his last-minute items but needed to visit his friend at his favorite jewelry store over on South Wabash. There was a special gift that he needed to buy for his forty-five-year-old girlfriend, Caroline Tortorici. There was a special string of pearls that his friend, Ralph Zupo, the owner of Goldstein Jewelers was holding for him. Of course, Don Carlo had to make certain that this particular gift was the right one. He had just spent over $20,000 in cash for his girlfriend’s gift, as they were celebrating their tenth Christmas holiday season together. He was confident that he could bring that kind of currency into his friend’s jewelry store without having a problem.

Don Marchese was an older, distinguished gentlemen in his early seventies, with slicked back gray hair and a moderate five-foot, ten-inch frame. He prided on taking very good care of himself, was an avid walker and religiously followed a vegan diet. Don Marchese sacrificed and refrained from eating red meat, bread, and especially, his beloved pasta dishes years ago. His blood pressure and prior cardiac problems seemed to be a curse that he had inherited from previous generations of his Roman ancestors. Don Marchese was dressed in a plaid pair of checkered pants, brown leather shoes and a white shirt, wearing a worn-out, green winter jacket. He was not a flashy, over-the-top Mafioso who ‘dressed to the nines’. Quite the opposite. Dressing as a vagabond was his public disguise. He enjoyed staying under the radar, and if anyone ever met him judging by his appearance, they would never guess who he really was.

He had already shopped for his wife, Angela, his three daughters and his five grandchildren, and only had his girlfriend left to shop for. Besides his family’s gifts, he would usually fill their stockings with envelopes for those he may have forgotten or neglected to buy gifts for this Christmas. He also made a special ‘busta’ for all his daughters and grandchildren to put into their holiday stockings as well, usually just a cheap Christmas card with $1,000 is large bills stuffed inside.

His driver picked him up at the corner of Randolph and Michigan Avenue as instructed, as the black, older model Buick pulled up and double parked in the middle of the busy boulevard. Don Marchese then quickly entered the car. He had a date later with Caroline at the Dei Amore Trattoria on North Hubbard Street, where they had planned to exchange gifts, since he would be with his family at Christmas.

“Paolo stop and park at the Blackstone please. I need to change and drop off a few things,” he instructed his chauffer.

Don Marchese had leased a two thousand square foot luxury suite on the eighteenth floor of the Blackstone Hotel, which he rented and paid for in cash on a monthly basis. This suite was his ‘home away from home’ when he wasn’t living in his opulent Sauganash, five thousand square foot mansion. He spent a considerable amount of time there while he was downtown doing business. He also gave a key to his girlfriend Caroline, where the two of them set up housekeeping whenever they needed privacy. He also conducted his ‘family meetings’ at the Blackstone, where he was often needed to oversee family business matters.

As Paolo dropped off him off in front of the Blackstone Hotel, Don Carlo grabbed several gift bags and items from the trunk of his car and entered the hotel lobby. After exchanging holiday greetings with the hotel door man and the elevator operator, he entered his hotel suite room 1821, clumsily dropping a few items in the hallway. He fumbled with his keys as he tried to juggle all his bags and enter his hotel room. He removed his winter jacket after dropping his bags on the floor and quickly used the bathroom. After several minutes, he then went into the bedroom and changed his shirt and pants, as his attire needed to be more fashionable for the Italian restaurant where he was meeting his girlfriend.

As he exited his hotel bedroom, he suddenly heard a deep voice call out his name from behind. He then felt a Beretta pistol being pointed directly up against the back of his head.

“Don Marchese…Happy Holidays,” was all the voice said, as another man grabbed his arms from behind and handcuffed his hands. He was quickly blindfolded, gagged, and his ankles were tied.

A twelve-foot rope serving as a noose was fastened around his neck. While he violently struggled, the two men forcefully escorted him over to the eighteenth story window in the bedroom. Don Marchese was trying to desperately to talk and formulate words with the handkerchief gag tightly wrapped around his mouth.

The other end of the rope was securely tied to the foot of the bed, and the bedroom windows were opened wide, exposing the noisy, holiday traffic down below. They knew that the violent jerk of the rope around the Marchese’s neck would instantaneously kill him when they quickly pushed him out of the window. One of the men grabbed a chair and stood behind Don Carlo, holding him steady in front of the window ledge. The two men planned to casually leave his hotel room and take the stairwell to their getaway car outside. One of the men grabbed a chair and stood behind Don Carlo, holding him steady in front of the window ledge.

The two men then lifted the older Mafioso onto the ledge of the window, standing erectly, facing Michigan Avenue down below. The rope around his neck began to jerk the foot of the king size bed, abruptly pulling it towards the bedroom wall as Marchese continued to struggle.

Just before pushing Don Marchese out of the eighteenth-floor window of the Blackstone Hotel, one of the men loudly said these final words:


“His Holiness sends his regards.”


About the author

Edward Izzi, CPA is a native of Detroit, Michigan, with a successful accounting firm in suburban Chicago. He has written many fiction thrillers, including “Of Bread & Wine”, “A Rose from The Executioner” & “Demons of Divine Wrath”. "Quando Dormo (When I Sleep) will be released early 2020. view profile

Published on October 15, 2019

Published by Cassino Publishing

130000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Thriller & Suspense

Reviewed by

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