John Grisham in regard to the Mafia

John Grisham in regard

to the Mafia

Novels by John Grisham:
The Client
The Pelican Brief
The Client

Mario Puzzo:
The Godfather

Nicholas Pileggi:

The Client by John Grisham

In this story, written by John Grisham, the eleven - year old Mark Sway unwillingly makes the acquaintance of a Mafia - lawyer. The man, before killing himself, tells Mark where a "hot" body is buried. His client, a killer of the Mafia, shot a US senator and hid the body. Only the lawyer knows where it is hidden and fears that the killer would also want to murder him, now that he knows everything. On the other hand, also after him is the FBI, who need the body for their investigation, they already know that his client is the killer. But as the American law says: no body - no trial. And, what makes the matter even worse, the FBI is already laughed into the face by the public. So they need the body like nothing else in the world. Before committing suicide he talks to know Mark, who is out in the woods together with his younger brother Ricky, who is nine years old. The lawyer had seen Mark crawling around in the woods and watching him, even taking the hose out of the car’s exhaust pipe. He grabs him and tells him that he wants Mark to die together with him. When Mark does not stop asking for the cause of his suicide and his own death he starts to tell him his the story. Now he wants to shoot himself after Mark - that is why talks so openly with him, telling Mark also where the body is hidden. But Mark is able to escape out of the, meanwhile heavily drunk lawyer’s car. Before he and his brother manage to leave the scene, the lawyer stumbles out of his car, screaming, and then he finally shoots himself, putting the gun into his mouth.
The two boys run off home where Mark calls the police. Ricky, however faints, and after these traumatic views goes into a strange kind of coma, often seen with kids under shock. The police soon arrives at the scene of crime and catches Mark, sneaking around and watching what is going on.
They soon find out that he had been the one who called the police and take him home, also a suspicious why he had not told his name when calling the police. By the time his mother has arrived home and is very concerned about Ricky’s state of health. A policeman immediately calls the ambulance to take care of Ricky. When the officer drives together with Mark to the hospital where his mother and brother already are, he starts to ask strange questions. He has found some weak points in Mark’s story and wants to crack the boy up. Mark, however, is a rather smart boy and manages to stay quiet, fearing that he could worsen the situation.
The policeman does not want to give up the story and soon also the Federal Bureau of Investigation shows up and starts to question the young boy.
But at the same time Mark already had an unpleasant meeting a with a Mafia killer, though he is able to flee in the last moment. The killer made it quite clear, however that if he talks, the Mafia would be after him and his family. So Mark remains silent. The FBI starts to put up more and more pressure, blackmailing the young boy also in illegal ways. Soon he does not know how to handle the situation anymore and decides to hire a lawyer. The only problem is that his mother lost her job while staying with Ricky at the hospital and so the family has no money at all. Soon also the trailer where they live is burned down by some men of the mob. So he starts to search for a lawyer who would help him for little money. But everywhere he is turned out, because being a kid, an unimportant young guy. Finally he comes into the office of Reggie Love, an ambitious elderly women who is ready to help him for the fee of one dollar. She does not really need money and studied law out of personal causes.
The lady turns out to be a very clever lawyer, succeeding in getting the upper hand over the FBI agents and also managing to end the pressure on Mark. The FBI is only ready to offer a Witness Protection Program if the body is really where Mark supposes it to be. In any other case they will not put him into the program but Mark fears that the Mafia would kill him sooner or later because he interfered with them.
They start to work out a way about how to make him tell without getting killed and finally the FBI simply sends Mark to prison. He is accused of holding back important information about a crime. Mark is able to escape from prison all on his own, always conscious that the Mafia would find him anywhere.
He calls up Reggie and they both go to Chicago under false identities to find out if the dead lawyer has told Mark the truth.
They know that the Mafia is not able to get the body at the moment because the hiding place is crowded with police, although they do not know that they are so close to their so intensely searched body. The "place" is the dead lawyer’s house, where the body is buried under his boat.
In the middle of the night Reggie and Mark show up to check if the body is still there. They find it where it was supposed to be and Mark finally accepts the Witness Protection Program of the FBI, though he changes some decisions, not telling anyone what it will be. So in the end, he and his family leave to a secret place, not even Reggie knowing where they will go.

In this book, the Mafia is characterised as a crowd of morons, who are brutal but not clever at all. The FBI knows almost every step they will take and the Mafia lives in fear of the federals. Mark fears the Mafia because he considers them to be able to find him anywhere.
In the end he is not so sure about their abilities anymore and decides to reveal where their body is. The men of the Mafia are described as stupid, very simple people and the only thing they can do well is killing and scaring people, but even a smart eleven year - old boy is able to deal with them. In this book of John Grisham, also the political and social influences the Mafia exerts are rather lower than in other books and the only men who keep them out of prison are their lawyers who are so scared to death that they do not even realise anymore that the Mafia is just a bunch of incapable men.

The Firm by John Grisham

The young lawyer, Mitch McDeere, who is straight out of collegeis interviewed by a big law firm. They offer him a lot of money, a company car, a high salary and so on, so the young man from a rather poor background is highly pleased with their offer.

As he was one of the best law students in his year, he was offered a job by several good law firms, but with an income normal for a young man fresh from college. Then eventually this law firm from Chicago makes an offer that seems to good to be true. And that is how it finally turns out to be. Mitch accepts the job in the firm and moves together with his young wife Abby to Chicago. He starts working there and is rather good in his new profession, getting to know the firm better and better. The firm makes clear who they do not like lawyers that drink or get off the right path, they like big families and none of their lawyers should get divorced. Slowly he finds out more and more about the firm and about their clients. The firm only employs white men, no coloured, no women. He finds about one woman who was in the firm some years ago, but she won living in a rather excessive way and that she died very soon. Soon, Mitch realises that there are even quite a lot of dead lawyers in the firm. He gets puzzled and starts snooping around and soon stumbles about strange details. It turns out that the firm makes the young lawyers addicted to them, they lend them money, they have photos of the lawyers, together with their girlfriends, they make the women enjoy an expensive life - style, and, in different ways, give them no chance to survive if they try getting out of the firm. Either the lawyer is financially ruined, socially ruined or simply dies. He has to realise that the firm is corrupt, but soon finds out that it is lot worse - the firm is owned by the mob. After a friend of him, working for the firm is dies, Mitch panics. He knows that by now it is already impossible for him to leave the firm without getting killed. The mob not only launders money all around the world, but also defends almost only Mafiosi. He finds further hints and proofs and is slowly able to get a complete picture of this law - firm. And soon he finds out that his house and car are bugged, that the mob knows everything about his life, that they even know that he knows, so he has to leave his office and run off together with his wife and brother. Although he manages to bring all the evidence to the FBI, he is never seen again. The FBI is able to hit the Mafia community very hard, accusing clients and lawyers and even being able to prove everything very clearly.

Mitch, together with his wife and brother, takes off to a little island, with the firm’s money and spends the rest of his life on the beach, sipping cocktails, while in the meantime in Chicago all of the firms lawyers are sent to prison.

In this book, the Mafia is characterised as being extremely powerful and very well - organised. They control the lives of their lawyers and can handle then, as they like. They corrupt them, making them addicted to money, women and power, and so soon they would have to do everything for the mob. Sometimes younger lawyers find out what is going on, but never to the full extent. So they are either blackmailed or have a dramatic accident. Only the senior members, who have proved their good will in working for the mob, get to know the dark side of their firm.

Also in this book the FBI characters are, again described as rather incompetent people, and mostly not very pleasant people. But in the end they turn out to be better then they acted throughout the whole story.

The Pelican Brief by John Grisham

America is horrified by the murders of two Supreme Court Judges, though they were political very active there is no apparent reason for these two killings.

Soon the young law student Darby Shaw starts to work out a brief - "the pelican brief", as she calls it - where she sets up her theory why the judges were killed.
She works on her little plot, a shot into the dark and then throws it away, because even to her it seems unreal.
Her professor at university, who is also her lover, is very interested in her little work and considers it as highly interesting. He adores her good work and good research in this work and does not want this work to be useless. Though he does not know what following actions he will break loose, he passes it to a friend who is an agent at the FBI and asks him to read it. Soon the brief is being passed around and also the White House gets to read it.
A short time later a car bomb explodes, supposed to kill Darby and her lover, though Darby is not in the car with him at this time.
When she recovers from the shock, she starts to file out that she had made the score. And from that moment on the young girl is on the run, followed by one of the best killers of the world. Soon her lovers friend at the FBI is also dead and the killer nearly gets her, too. But meanwhile the FBI had become suspicious that something is wrong in the White House and they send an agent to protect Darby.
Soon the killer is killed by the FBI's agent, Darby knows nothing about these actions taking part around her. She is very concerned about how to survive without getting caught and leaving no traces.
Finally Darby tells an journalist, Grey Grantham about her story and asks him to help her. She knows that he already had followed other hints, leading in this direction but was not able to put the parts together yet. Darby asks him to end this story by writing an exposing story for the paper. So they start to investigate because they have to prove Darby's theory before court. Soon they find out about a young dead lawyer, who seemingly committed suicide, but neither Darby nor Grey believe this story. After investigating some more they find out about a big plot of money paid to the president by the Mafia, in order to be able to exploit a nature reserves, where in first line pelicans live.
Through Darby's little theory the President and many other powerful people can be accused and imprisoned.

In this book the Mafia is characterised rather powerful, even having the president on their paybill. Again they are rather scrupulous, killing everyone who tries to stir up trouble or may be bad for business.
So they had killed the lawyer who found out about the moneys for the president and the nature reserve story. Also Darby and Grey are followed by killers, hired by the Mafia.
The FBI on the other hand comes off better this time, doing a good job in their investigations, protecting Darby and finally getting the information from her without having to beg for it. Though this time the CIA is involved and had to take over the unsympathetic part of the law, supporting the President to make his friendship and not following every trace, like the FBI.

The Godfather

This book, written by Mario Puzo, describes the life of a Don of the Mafia, how the Mafia proceeds and which influence and powers they have.
Don Vito Corleone, is also known as "the Godfather" and even called this way by most people. He is known as a very just and reasonable man, very affectionate and helping everyone who asks him a favour.
When someone asks him a favour because he has no chance to straighten his problems out within the existing political, social or economic system, he can be sure to be supported help from the very generous old man. After the years the Don has many people who own him a favour and them has always options open.
The Godfather is the boss of one of the leading Mafiosi Families during and after the second World War. He has three sons, Santino, Frederico and Michael and one daughter Constanzia. Then there is also Tom Hagen, who has grown up in the family’s house since the age of eleven, that was when his mother died. He is of the same age as Santino, who mostly called Sonny. He was not adopted because Don Corleone wanted him to keep his last name to honour his father. The Corleones saved Tom from death when they took him into their family and he dearly loves all members, especially the Don and Sonny. He become a lawyer after he realised what the Don’s business was and wanted to help the family with his profession.
The Don came to America at the age of twelve, after his father was killed because he interfered with the Mafia of Sicily and grew up working in a grocery shop in New York. At this time, during World War I there, were many Italian quarters in New York. He married a girl also from Sicily and had to accept every job he was offered in order to survive. Soon his first two sons, Sonny and Freddo, were born and he had even more problems to feed his growing family. When he met the men Clemenza and Tessio, the three of them found a very lucrative way of making some extra money: they rob cloth transports and sell the things at the black market. Soon the man, a cruel but unimportant little gangster who controlls the quarter finds out about their actions and blackmails them to pay him three thirds their profit. Clemenza and Tessio are scared and agree to pay - only Vito Corleone refuses. He meets with the little gangster, he follows him over the roofs of the houses and kills him. Soon everybody knows about these killings but not even the police ask questions about this dead gangster in the gutter. The young Corleone becomes known as a very scrupulous man and people start coming to ask for his help because everybody in the district, even important people, do not refuse him a favour as soon as they get to know about his reputation. Soon he and a friend start to deal with olive oil, turning out to be a very profitable business. Who wants to push down the price is either simply wiped out or the trucks are burned down. During the years the Godfather is able to build up one of the biggest Mafia empires of America.
It is not quite sure who of his sons is the one to run the family business later. Sonny is a very hot - tempered young fellow, who is very brutal and does not care about losses. Freddo or Freddie is a rather quiet young man who does not have the energy and the ambition to become a Don, and the youngest son, Michael, seems to be the family’s black sheep. He went to College and was more interested in books than in the family business during all the time. When he decided to join the army during the Second World War to support the country where he grew up his father considers him unfit to run the family’s empire.
Sonny in any case wants to continue in the Mafia business. He supports his father wherever he can and tries to learn and adopt from him as much as possible.
Then one day Sollozzo, a Turk Mafiosi, shows up and asks the Don to become his partner in the narcotic sector, because he would need his connections to the government.
But the Don refuses, having no interest in narcotics. Sonny, however, bursts out during the conversation that maybe they should accept but the Godfather refuses strictly.
A short time after this conversation Don Corleone is gunned down; although five bullets are pumped into his body, he survives. He has to stay in hospital for a long time and therefore is not able to run the family business. Finally Sonny gets into action. He starts a bloody war against the other five families and Sollozzo, who is supported by the Tattaglia family and Buzini, the two most powerful heads of the Mafia. Freddie is sent to a friend to Las Vegas, because he has not yet recovered from the shock of seeing his beloved father being gunned down. Even Michael gets involved. After another attack on his father by Sollozzo and a high police officer, he decides that Sollozzo and this policeman had to die before they could kill the old Don.
So at a meeting where peace should be negotiated he shoots both and has to flee the country, because even for the Mafia it is impossible to shoot policemen without any consequences. So Michael is shipped to Sicily where he stays with an old - fashioned Mafia pardone. There he falls in love with a young Sicilian girl and marries her.
In the meantime, Sonny Corleone is killed in New York by the Tattaglia family, after the Corleone family had killed a son of the Tattaglia family. So the Don has to get into action again, but instead of continuing the war he offers peace to the other families, because he fears for Michael’s life. But this decision makes him seem weak to the others, as he is rather supposed to take revenge for his son’s life.
And indeed there is an attack on Michael’s life, killing Michael’s wife.
Two years after leaving the country, Michael returns and starts to take over the family business, though he is considered as incapable and not powerful enough.
He waits for a year and wants to move his operating area to Las Vegas, and shortly after his father death he starts getting accounts with the rival families.
He kills the Don of the Tattaglia family, gets Buzini killed, kills one of his caporegimes, who are his combat leaders, because of lying to him. But he also murders sister’s husband because he had sold Sonny to the Tattaglia family.
Within a short time he manages to become the most powerful Mafioso in America. It turns out that, he is a lot colder and even more brutal than his brother Sonny. And that he is as intelligent as his father, but less scrupulous.

The book describes very clearly the way the Mafia works and which methods they use to run their dirty business.
When the Corleone's discussed about business with others and someone turns out to do what he wants and does not accept their "offers", he soon might be found lying dead in the gutter.
An illustration for that is the handling of Mafia interests in Hollywood:
When a very rich, but rather stupid movie producer, refused to give a part of a film to the Don’s Godson he found his beloved racing horse's head in his bedroom next morning.
When Al Capone decided to send two killers after the Corleone family in order to support a friend, he soon received a parcel with his two killers in pieces.
But when someone offers his friendship to the Don he could ask him for everything he wants, the Don would help him in every situation. As long as you do not betray his friendship he is prepared to help everyone in any situation. On the other hand he will only expect the other person to do him a favour in regard to his profession or abilities. He never asks for something impossible, but he wants to have it done within no time and without any question asked, whenever he calls the person.
That is how Mario Puzo's Mafia acts.

Goodfellas by Nicholas Pileggi

It is the biography of Henry Hill, written by the journalist Nicholas Pileggi.
Henry is a half - Italian, half - Irish. His father was an Irish worker who came to America before the Second World War. Henry is living with his family and his mother, a woman from Sicily, three sisters and four brothers, one of them physically handicapped, in a very small flat in a working district of New York.
In order to earn some money beside school Henry starts working at a cabstand opposite of his house.
He is doing small jobs for little gangsters, so - called wiseguys, who are on the rise for getting powerful Mafiosi.
When they find out about him being half Italian the wiseguys like him even better and start to accept him within their community. Henry is very smart for his age and he completely understands how the guys work without having to ask. So he soon manages to earn a lot of money, although he knows that it is "dirty" money. After a while he stops attending school and only hangs around with wiseguys. He adores their style of living and wants to become like them. He prefers being with grown - ups and has to be considered as rather smart for his age. Slowly he becomes one of them, going to their parties, playing with their children, and he is rarely seen at home.
They teach him how to deal with the police, how to vanish after a deal. When he is thirteen he is arrested for the first time, but his parents do not even learn as fact, because the wiseguys get him out of prison within an hour. Henry then adopts their lifestyle fully, spending money as soon as he gets it, gambling and selling cigarettes and alcohol on the black market. He knows perfectly whom to pay and when it is better not to notice anything.

After a serious quarrel with his father he signs to join the paratroopers, what is a bad shock for the Mafiosi, who immediately offer to get him out of this disaster, but he refuses. Even at the army he keeps on making money out of everything he touches.
He is forced to leave the army a little earlier than planned when he seriously hurts another guy during a fight.
After his time in the army he returns to the wiseguys again. In the meantime he was learnt everything about the organisation, knows ho is who and the way these guys think. He knows that he has no chance to become an important member of the Mafia, because of being only half - Italian, but he enjoys life in every possible way.
The Mafia he is connected to is still the Mafia before the powerful family businesses but it slowly gets more organised and a lot more bloody.
Henry gets used to the Mafia methods of silencing people and he makes clear that all these things seem very normal to him.
At the age of twenty - two he gets to know his future wife who comes from a rather wealthy family. She loves him a lot and adores his way of life, although not knowing exactly what he does. Her parents do not like him at all, so the two get married secretly and after the wedding their parents finally accept him, although his mother - in - law never stops nagging.
The killings within the Mafia, and the number of dead bodies around the mob slowly get out of control, everybody whacks everyone, even if he only dislikes the other’s face.
Henry keeps on with his life, making money, spending money, his family is able to get along fine and in the meanwhile they have two children. He gets to jail from time to time but - due to his connections - never for long.
Finally the police is able to prove his involvement in a big narcotic deal and Henry is sentenced to six years in prison. Soon the money stops flooding in, and his wife Karen and the children barely manage to survive. Although he keeps on dealing in prison, the money is not flooding like before and because of their spending everything all the time they do not have anything to subsist on. Karen now has to work at a dentist’s, nevertheless she does not stop loving her husband.
After he is released from prison he starts getting into the Mafia business again.
When he first hears about the Lufthansa deal he is not too interested, and because of not being involved he prefers to follow his own business.
But he learns everything about the deal, he knows who has to do which job and he realises the dimensions of this project.
When the Lufthansa robbery is over, where Lufthansa loses many millions in cash and jewellery, the FBI starts to investigate. Soon most of the men who took part in the project are dead or simply vanish and the wiseguys get nervous.
Out of bad luck Henry is arrested because he is supposed of dealing. The FBI knows that he has something to do with the Mafia but does not pay much attention to him - he is only a little fish. When Henry faces another long period of prison, he gets nervous when he hears that the gangsters he grew up with are now all dead and that he would be the next because of knowing about the Lufthansa deal he gets into panic. So he offers the FBI to tell them all they want to know, if they protect him and make him part of a Witness Protection Program. The FBI accepts and Henry testifies against all his former business partners and even friends without any remorse, bringing them into prison.
Henry Hill spends the rest of his life in a little town, feeling rather safe. From time to time he travels - under heavy protection - to trials testifying against his wiseguys.

In this book the Mafia is not so powerful, as in Mario Puzzo's "Godfather" and the characters are rather described as not too intelligent and sensible. They are very brutal, but have little in common with the feudal clan system described in the "Godfather". It is a portrait of the Mafia before and during the time of prohibition, when it was not yet so well organised as it became later. There were no rules and everyone acted rather independently.

Henry Hill - a former associate Jimmy Burke, "Jimmy the Gent" Member of the Los Angeles
of Jimmy "the Gent" Burke and Involved in the Lufthansa robbery crime family
members of the New York Lucchese at Kennedy airport, where about
crime family. 6,8 mio. dollars were stole.
biggest deal ever, died in prison

Salvatore "Sammy G" Gingello, Louis Buchalter, Louis Toni Accardo, "Joe Batters", "Big
underboss/acting boss of the Lepke. Head of Murder Tuna"; most respected and feared
Rochester La Cosa Nostra, Inc., executed for murder boss of Chgicago, started his criminal
seventies career in the 1920 as a member of the
Capone clan, died 1992

Angelo "the gentle Don" Bruno, Philadelphia Mafia boss, Carlo Gambino, longtime powerful
murder scene 1980 Mafiosi, died in Long Island of an
heart attack

Al Capone, Mafia boss, Chicago Paul Castellano, aka Big Paul
brother in law of Carlo Gambino

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