Omerta by Mario Puzo: To Don Raymonde Aprile’s children he was a loyal family member, their father’s adopted “nephew.” To the FBI he was a man who would rather ride his horses than do Mob business. No one knew why Aprile, the last great American Don, had adopted Astorre Viola many years before in Sicily; no one suspected how he had carefully trained him … and how, while the Don’s children claimed respectable careers in America, Astorre Viola waited for his time to come.
Now his time has arrived. The Don is dead, his murder one bloody act in a drama of ambition and deceit — from the deadly compromises made by an FBI agent to the greed of two crooked NYPD detectives and the frightening plans of a South American Mob kingpin. In a collision of enemies and lovers, betrayers and loyal soldiers, Astorre Viola will claim his destiny. Because after all these years, this moment is in his blood
The book begins with the death of Don Vincenzo Zeno in Sicily. On his deathbed, Don Zeno left the care of his infant son Astorre to his old follower, Don Raymonde Aprile. Don Aprile lives in New York, where he is known as a fair but merciless Mafia head. Aprile is a widower who does not want his children to follow him in illicit business. To save them, he sends them to private boarding schools and only sees them on holidays. Astorre is the favorite of his children, Aprile considering him his nephew, and Astorre is picked as the one who must protect the family after Aprile dies.
Aprile decides to take Astorre, a young and bright child, to Sicily one summer. One day while the Don and Astorre are walking the streets of Sicily, a small cosca kidnaps them. The captors treat the Don and Astorre well, but they want a ransom. Aprile warns the kidnappers to let him go. “The rest of your lives will be miserable if you do not.” The cosca does not realize how powerful Aprile is. In the middle of the night, Bianco, a friend of the Don, rescues Aprile and Astorre. Aprile wants to kill the kidnappers, but Astorre asks him not to. Aprile gives in, but makes the men his loyal servants.
When Astorre turns 16, he has a romantic affair with Nicole, the Don’s youngest child and only daughter. Aprile orders the boy to move to London, to attend college and stop the affair. Nicole is upset by this, but Astorre obeys his uncle without argument. Astorre stays in London for a year with Mr. Pryor, a banker friend of the Don, and then returns to Sicily, staying for ten years and serving under Don Bianco, an old friend, fellow Don Zeno follower, and protector of Aprile. During his time in London, he meets a young woman named Rosie, with whom he begins a romantic relationship, which he continues during his time in Sicily, until he finds out that she has not been faithful to him.
When Astorre comes back, having completed his training, Aprile decides it is time to retire from his dangerous business. He settles all his accounts and pays off all of his associates keeping only his ten international banks, which are completely legitimate. Aprile instructs Astorre that when he dies the banks should not be sold. Aprile writes in his will that Astorre owns 51% of all voting stock in the bank, with the Don’s children owning the rest. The interests from the bank will go to Astorre and the children evenly. In the meanwhile, Aprile starts a macaroni importing business for Astorre.
Valerius, Aprile’s oldest son, invites his family to his son’s communion. After the communion commences two men execute Aprile in a drive-by shooting. Without any public authorities securing the area, the killers are able to escape and, in spite of Aprile’s power, there is no subsequent investigation into his death. Timmona Portella, controlling the only significant criminal organization remaining in New York, along with his international partners, tries to negotiate with the Don’s children and Astorre to purchase the banks from them in order to launder drug money. However, Astorre, holding the majority share, consistently declines their offers, following the Don’s instructions and claiming that he has found a love for the banking industry.