Thursday, January 23, 2020

Death in the Family by Lanny Larcinese - Book Tour and Giveaway

Donny Lentini is a talented young man hungry for his mother's love. To please her, he becomes guardian angel to his mob-wannabe father. When the father is murdered and found with his hands hacked off, Donny is dealt a set of cards in a game called vengeance. The pot is stacked high with chips; the ante, his soul and the lives of loved-ones. With the help of friends—ex-con, defrocked Jesuit Bill Conlon along with former high-school nemesis, Antwyne Claxton—he digs for whether the murder had anything to do with the mob's lust for a real estate parcel owned by the family of Donny's lover. He's new at this game. He doesn't cheat, but plays his cards well. And he gets what he wants.


I slid my foot over to touch Dad’s. I had promised Mother I’d look after him.

“Is this about the money you lost at the table?” I said. “Should we play a few more hands?”

German pounded his fist on the desk. “Don’t try to second-guess me, you punk! You’ll talk when I say, got it?”

I kept my eyes fixed on German’s. Six…seven…eight…

Dad reached over and put his hand on mine. “I didn’t lose the cleaners,” he said. A bead of sweat meandered toward his jaw. “The union was working on ’em going back three years now. It was already a done deal by the time I got there.”

“Whatever,” German said. “Just don’t let it happen anymore. And tell Donny here to mind his manners or you’ll be back driving a truck.”

The baseball bat leaning in a corner near German’s desk was an exclamation point that punctuated his directives. If it ever came down to that, I’d slash his throat with a rusty knife. Yet I still had to walk a tightrope. Dad would have preferred the bat to the demotion. Dad was a climber and German his future.

German picked up a couple of coded folders and put them into a filing cabinet, slamming the drawer down its rails like a runaway train.

“Oh, and Joojy wants to see you. I don’t know about what.”     

“What about?” Dad said.

“You don’t hear? I said I don’t know! Maybe that thing. Now get outta here, both yiz. I got to take my daughter to ballet.”

Guest Post

My Writing Process

Unlike many writers who conceive a circumstance that makes for an interesting plot, then populate it with characters to service it, I do the opposite. My stories always begin with a character.

He may live a normal life but will have a need of some kind, unfulfilled—the more burning the better. My protagonist in Death in the Family, Donny Lentini, is such a person. He is talented, an MBA who missed out on an athletic scholarship to an Ivy League school because his low-level wannabe mob father was an ex-con. But it’s Donny’s mother who’s the cause of his problem: She is so into her husband that Donny feels shut out. When the old man’s ship comes in as a drug distributor for the local capo, but who is later found murdered with his hands chopped off, it is Mother who pushes Donny to find out who did it, why, and to get even.

Having established a character’s motivation for his actions, I then create a mystery. In Death in the Family, the first mystery is: who killed Donny’s father and why? As he tries to solve it, a second mystery arises: the mob is making attacks against the diner run by his girlfriend, Pepper, and owned by her family. What’s up with that? The two mysteries run concurrently but later converge when it becomes clear the same mob guys are associated with both incidents. (If you expect me to give away the ending, forgetaboutit!) But I’ll reveal this much, by book’s end Donny says, “She should always have known I was the better man.”

In my novel, I Detest All My Sins, the protagonist, Bill O’Dwyer, is a defrocked Jesuit who did time for the statutory rape of one of his students. The story opens as he comes out of prison laden with guilt. His stretch and ignominy led to the suicide of a beloved younger brother headed to the Naval Academy. The brother’s appointment was by the congressman-uncle of the girl Bill defiled. So, early on, Bill has a serious agenda.

So I always begin with a character, an important need, a bit of back story, and I usually know how it’s going to end. In between, I mull plot events designed to squeeze the character’s need, then squeeze some more, and more yet. I consider my work “character driven,” but not like “literary writing,” in which not much happens but a lot goes on; I am a genre writer, a crime writer to whom noir is not a literary convention but a state of mind, something like the blues. Like the blues, my characters need to be done wrong by somebody, sometimes themselves, and result in a struggle. 

No matter, I still love them. Even struggle is holy.

About the Author

Lanny Larcinese ‘s short work has appeared in magazines and has won a handful of local prizes. He lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He’s a native mid-westerner transplanted to the City of Brotherly Love where he has been writing fiction for seven years. When not writing, he lets his daughter, Amanda, charm him out of his socks, and works at impressing Jackie, his long-time companion who keeps him honest and laughing—in addition to being his first-line writing critic. He also spends more time than he should on Facebook but feels suitably guilty for it.

Lanny Larcinese will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway