De Marco Empire by J Lou McCartney is a gripping who-dunnit that immediately immerses the reader in another world. It is an intricately plotted tale full of deceit, crime, suspense and romance, a story readers can sink their teeth into. Fans of the Sopranos will love this story.
In the prologue, we learn that Katie de Marco is on trial for the murder of her husband, Antonio, who was killed on their wedding night. Her lawyer is Matt Carmichael, an ex-boyfriend. Matt is determined to prove her innocence but all the evidence points to her.
The story begins five years earlier and we learn the events that led up to this tragic circumstance. On Lucy Carmichael's twentieth birthday and she her best friend Katie Saunders are out for a night of fun. They try to get in to a new London hot spot, the exclusive Club La Pregheira. Caught without tickets they pretend to apply for jobs as croupiers and end up being hired as waitresses.
Two rich and powerful brothers, Antonio and Gianni de Marco, own the club. Antonio is engaged to Sasha Breschnevsky, a beautiful blonde Russian. But when he meets Katie he falls for her and drops Sasha. Katie's boyfriend is Lucy's brother, Matt who is warned to stay away from her. And so Katie and Antonio become a romantic couple. Right from the beginning, they have problems. Sasha is angry at being dumped and the de Marco family has some bad history. They have enemies in Italy and they angered the Irish mobs as well but Katie is blind to this dark side of the de Marcos.
Antonio has many enemies. Any one of them might have killed him and framed Katie. The mystery kept me guessing. Several times, I thought I knew the identity of the killer but I was proven wrong. McCartney is skilled at bringing her characters to life but she has a habit of head hopping that is sometimes confusing. Shifting the point of view to different characters in the middle of a scene is something only the most experienced writers can pull off. Despite some flaws in technique, this is an outstanding first novel with an attention-grabbing plot and realistic characters, a page-turner that would make a great movie. I look forward to reading more from this new author.
Publisher: Vanguard Press; 1st edition (May 27, 2008)
Paperback: 346 Pages