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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
The Poison of Money: Inside The Torrio Family is a deep, profound struggle between power and spirituality. This is why Joseph, the protagonist, is believable and sympathetic. This novel by Joe Torrence is a brilliant coming of age tale that invites you to consider how one man weighs his options upon discovering that his great-uncle is the most powerful Mafioso that ever existed. From his humble beginnings, Joseph emerges as a determined and admirable character. Like most people dreaming of a better life, he is lured into exploring the Great American Dream against the behest of his pious parents who have warned him about how power and money corrupt. But deeply hidden secrets seem to have a way of emerging, as Joseph discovers that Al Capone’s boss is his great-uncle. And so begins his quest that will take Joseph across continents to unravel his identity and bear witness to the decay that his parents have warned him about.
Reading The Poison of Money gives you the feeling of going down memory lane. Photographs of people, places, and documents accompany the pages and add further credibility to a novel that is largely based on true events. The story views the Mafia structure on its genealogical level that begins when Joseph discovers the newspaper clippings about Johnny Torrio. This is the secret to its charm, as Torrence shapes how his readers will perceive the Mafia. There is a strong interplay between the conflicting influence of power and spirituality, and you will want to know how Joseph plays it out at the end. The narrative does not follow any standard formula, except for the structure common in Mafia tales about balancing power and family loyalty. As you follow Joseph in his quest for truth and identity, you will think that he has no idea what he is getting himself into, but at the same time, you cannot blame him. The Poison of Money embodies an elusive dream that comes with a caveat.