There are many novels that give you the impression of being more than what you may guess from the cover and the title. One such novel I have read recently and it has been written by Niraj Sharma, an Indian author based in Canada. The Penthouse is the title of this novel and the cover shows a gunman in a suit – giving the readers an impression that it is about some high-class mafia and, ultimately, the blurb clarifies all the concerns of the readers. This novel, the blurb says, is about Vito Ricci who joins the mafia in Italy and begins dealing in drugs. Vito comes from a very poor family and aspires to be rich by his own efforts and he can do anything for that. However, he ends up joining the Frazelli family of crime.
The novel has been set-up very well by Niraj Sharma. He narrates the story from Vito’s perspective in a way that readers may generate sympathy for him in the course of the novel. The entire story of this novel revolves around this simple plot – rise and realisation and eventual redemption of Vito Ricci. He begins as a small-time drug dealer in Italy and then moves to America to expand the narcotics venom. However, more than narcotics, violence, gunshots, cop chase, there is also space that is filled with love and emotional journey of the protagonist with his love interest Alicia Trillo.
In the novel, a very bizarre but somewhat meaningful refrain comes in the form of ‘the next morning’ that is the beginning line in each of the 35 chapters. I think that the novelist might have thought to give his novel a touch of philosophical realism. We have to wake up every morning with hope if we do all good. However, we wake up each morning with despair if we know that our dealings are not good — and the same is the case with Vito and ‘The Boys’ who have to run here and there to get the things done.
“It was better to tell his family and those around him a lie that brought a smile, rather than tell them the truth that would make them shed a tear.”
When Vito thinks within himself, he is right. However, the ultimate unveiling of truth creates even bigger a trouble that revealing it earlier. Vito makes the same mistake and he renders his soul into troubles towards the end of the novel.
I liked the idea of Niraj. He has made this crime thriller novel entirely Italian in style and given it a backdrop that is completely American in tone and tenure. The Indian readers will like this mafia story weaved by a novelist in Canada who has cared to publish an Indian edition for them only! You can also find that the language has been very simple throughout the novel. The narrative is clean and the theme has been constant – crime and redemption and realisation (in this or that order). I would recommend this novel to all the readers who can read crime fiction with ease.
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Review by a contributor for Literature News
The Penthouse by Niraj Sharma
- Narrative and Language
- Themes & Issues Dealt
- Overall Impression
I would love to recommend this novel to all crime thriller readers but be ready for some slow start before it catches pace…