IT IS the stuff of legendary gangster movies – brutal murders and mysterious people keeping quiet for their protection.
But the face of Mafia culture and its grip on modern Sicily has been laid bare in a crime thriller written by a Sheffield author.
Daniel Kenyon’s novel aims to strip away the glamour of the Mafia immortalised in films like The Godfather to show its ‘grittier’ reality.
It is set in Palermo – the heartland of the Cosa Nostra criminal syndicate – where Daniel moved from Burngreave five years ago.
The 34-year-old former pupil of Folkwood School in Bents Green said: “I was influenced by a lot of the things I saw in Palermo. I wanted to show the Mafia how it really is and not the glamorised version of The Godfather.
“The reality is much grittier, they dress less elegantly, most are far less handsome than Marlon Brando and Al Pacino and the opera house is one of the last places you are likely to see them.”
Translator Daniel’s book, The Savage Heart of Palermo, is partly based on real people and places, although names have been changed.
Remaining tight-lipped about his personal experiences, he said: “I would like to draw attention to the situation without making a martyr of myself. , but I will say one of the people who features in the book actually turned out to be a Mafia boss and I never knew it at the time.
“He is the owner of a bar where I used to drink and quite well known by many locals. That’s all I’m saying.”
Two gruesome Italian murders – one the killing of six Africans by Mafia over cocaine dealing – feature in the book.
It tells the story of a man who escapes a troubled youth in Chicago to find his new life in Palermo is also steeped in violence.
Daniel said: “Many parts of the book are based on a ‘what if’ scenario.
“What if Cosa Nostra became powerful again and went to war? I wanted to imagine what it would be like in Palermo today.”
Money raised by book sales will help Addiopizzo, which encourages people not to pay extortion money to the Mafia, and an immigration charity.
Despite fellow author Roberto Saviano, who wrote about the Mafia in Naples, being forced into police protection by death threats, Daniel does not fear repercussions.
He said: “I’m sure there are certain parties that would rather I hadn’t written it and won’t be happy that I am donating to Addiopizzo, but I’m not particularly worried about it.”
n To pre-order the book, visit http://sbpra.com/danielkenyon