The Murder of Paolo Mancuso: A Joey Mancuso, Father O’Brien Crime Mystery, by Owen Parr introduces us to an unlikely pair of crime solvers; half-brothers, Joey Mancuso and Father Dominic O’Brien. Joey’s father, Paolo, was fairly high up in one of New York’s crime families, when he was murdered, in front of his teenage son, some twenty years ago. That and the influence of a New York City police captain saw Joey turn away from his father’s occupation and instead train to be a New York City Detective. After a successful career in the police force, Joey and his half-brother Dom, a Catholic priest have joined forces in business, running both a Cigar Bar and a Private Detective Agency. Haunted by his father’s unsolved murder and with new clues provided by Paolo’s best friend, on his deathbed, Joey decides it is finally time to put this mystery behind him and discover who ordered the hit on his father all those years ago.
Owen Parr has created an unusual set of characters for this series; headlined by Joey and his brother, but including the likeable Mr Pat, the former manager of their Cigar Bar, Joey’s wife, FBI Special Agent Marcy and their tech whiz, assistant Agnes. The cast of different character is probably what lifts The Murder of Paolo Mancuso: A Joey Mancuso, Father O’Brien Crime Mystery, above your average murder mystery. The story is very readable, with straightforward languages and a plot that flies all over the place keeping the reader continually guessing and wondering. The plot is complicated and twists relentlessly, taking the reader from New York, to a small island off Hilton Head on the east coast of the US and across to Barcelona, among other places. If murder mystery is your thing, or police procedures, then this book will surely satiate your appetite. I felt myself, as a reader, continually drawn to comparison to the works of Ed McBain. I saw character parallels between McBain’s main hero, Steve Carrella and Joey Mancuso, very clearly. The styles are similar.