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Product Description

A masterful saga of the last great American Mafia family and its powerful reach into Hollywood and Las Vegas, from the author of The Godfather

The Last Don
is Domenico Clericuzio, a wise and ruthless old man who is determined to see his heirs established in legitimate society but whose vision is threatened when secrets from the family''s past spark a vicious war between two blood cousins.

The Last Don is a mesmerizing tale that takes us inside the equally corrupt worlds of the mob, the movie industry, and the casinos where beautiful actresses and ruthless hitmen are ruled by lust and violence, where sleazy producers and greedy studio heads are drunk on power, where crooked cops and desperate gamblers play dangerous games of betrayal, and where one man controls them all.

Praise for The Last Don
 
“Puzo is in top form. . . . Head-long entertainment, bubbling over with corruption, betrayal, assassinations, Richter-scale romance, and, of course, family values.” Time

“The most entertaining read since The Godfather.” The New York Times Book Review

“Skillfully crafted . . . It gives us Hollywood, Las Vegas, and the mob in one sweet dish.” Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Puzo returns after a quarter century to the terrain of his greatest success, The Godfather, to tell a second masterful tale of Mafia life.” Variety

“A compelling tale peopled by memorable characters . . . Puzo is a master storyteller with an uncanny facility for details that force the reader to keep the pages turning.” USA Today

Review

“Puzo is in top form. . . . Head-long entertainment, bubbling over with corruption, betrayal, assassinations, Richter-scale romance, and, of course, family values.” Time

“The most entertaining read since The Godfather.” The New York Times Book Review

“Skillfully crafted . . . It gives us Hollywood, Las Vegas, and the mob in one sweet dish.” Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Puzo returns after a quarter century to the terrain of his greatest success, The Godfather, to tell a second masterful tale of Mafia life.” Variety

“A compelling tale peopled by memorable characters . . . Puzo is a master storyteller with an uncanny facility for details that force the reader to keep the pages turning.” USA Today

From the Back Cover

The last don is Domenico Clericuzio, a ferocious old man determined to secure his family''s future in an era of legalized gambling, motion picture investments, and the threat of government informers. The Don is close to achieving his vision when secrets buried in his family''s past threaten to undermine his plan and spark a war between two blood cousins.

About the Author

The son of Italian immigrants who moved to the Hell’s Kitchen area of New York City,  Mario Puzo was born on October 15, 1920. After World War II, during which he served as a U.S. Army corporal, he attended City College of New York on the G.I. Bill and worked as a freelance writer. During this period he wrote his first two novels,  The Dark Arena and  The Fortunate Pilgrim.When his books made little money despite being critically acclaimed, he vowed to write a bestseller.  The Godfather was an enormous success. He collaborated with director Francis Ford Coppola on the screenplays for all three Godfather movies and won Academy Awards for both  The Godfather and  The Godfather, Part II. He also collaborated on the scripts for such films as  Superman, Superman II, and  The Cotton Club. He continued to write phenomenally successful novels, including  Fools Die, The Sicilian, The Fourth K, and  The Last Don. Mario Puzo died on July 2, 1999. His final novel,  Omerta, was published in 2000.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

CHAPTER 1
 
BOZ SKANNET’S RED cap of hair was sprayed by the lemon-colored sunlight of California spring. His taut, muscular body throbbed to enter a great battle. His whole being was elated that his deed would be seen by more than a billion people all over the world.
 
In the elastic waistband of Skannet’s tennis slacks was a small pistol, concealed by the zippered jacket pulled down to his crotch. That white jacket blazed with vertical red lightning bolts. A blue-dotted scarlet bandana bound his hair.
 
In his right hand he held a huge, silvery Evian bottle. Boz Skannet presented himself perfectly to the showbiz world he was about to enter.
 
That world was a huge crowd in front of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, a crowd awaiting the arrival of movie stars to the Academy Awards ceremony. Specially erected grandstands held the spectators, the street itself was filled with TV cameras and reporters who would send iconic images all over the world. Tonight people would see their great movie stars in the flesh, shed of their manufactured mythic skins, subject to real-life losing and winning.
 
Uniformed security guards with shiny brown batons tucked neatly in holsters formed a perimeter to keep the spectators in check.
 
Boz Skannet didn’t worry about them. He was bigger, faster, and tougher than those men, and he had the element of surprise. He was wary of the TV reporters and cameramen who fearlessly staked out territory to intercept the celebrities. But they would be more eager to record than prevent.
 
A white limousine pulled up to the entrance of the Pavilion, and Skannet saw Athena Aquitane, “the most beautiful woman in the world,” according to various magazines. As she emerged, the crowd pressed against the barriers, shouting her name. Cameras surrounded her and charged her beauty to the far corners of the earth. She waved.
 
Skannet vaulted over the grandstand fence. He zigzagged through the traffic barriers, saw the brown shirts of the security guards start to converge, the pattern familiar. They didn’t have the right angle. He slipped past them as easily as he had the tacklers on the football field years before. And he arrived at exactly the right second. There was Athena talking into the microphone, head tilted to show her best side to the cameras. Three men were standing beside her. Skannet made sure that the camera had him, and then he threw the liquid from the bottle into Athena Aquitane’s face.
 
He shouted, “Here’s some acid, you bitch.” Then he looked directly into the camera, his face composed, serious, and dignified. “She deserved it,” he said. He was covered by a wave of brown-shirted men with their batons at the ready. He knelt on the ground.
 
At the last moment Athena Aquitane had seen his face. She heard his shout and turned her head so that the liquid struck her cheek and ear.
 
A billion TV people saw it all. The lovely face of Athena, the silvery liquid on her cheek, the shock and the horror, the recognition when she saw her attacker; a look of true fear that for a second destroyed all her imperious beauty.
 
The one billion people around the world watched as the police dragged Skannet off. He looked like a movie star himself as he raised his shackled hands in a victory salute, only to collapse as an enraged police officer, finding the gun in his waistband, gave him a short, terrible blow to the kidney.
 
Athena Aquitane, still reeling from shock, automatically brushed the liquid from her cheek. She felt no burning. The liquid drops on her hand began to dissolve. People were crashing all around her, to protect her, to carry her away.
 
She pulled loose and said to them calmly, “It’s only water.” She licked the drops off her hand to be sure. Then she tried to smile. “Typical of my husband,” she said.
 
Athena, showing the great courage that helped make her a legend, walked quickly into the Pavilion of the Academy Awards. When she won the Oscar for best actress, the audience rose and clapped for what seemed like forever.
 
In the chilled penthouse suite of the Xanadu Casino Hotel of Las Vegas, the eighty-five-year-old owner lay dying. But on this spring day, he thought he could hear, from sixteen floors below, an ivory ball clacking through red and black slots of roulette wheels, the distant surf of crapshooters hoarsely imploring tumbling dice, the whirring of thousands of slot machines devouring silver coins.
 
Alfred Gronevelt was as happy as any man could be while dying. He had spent nearly ninety years as a hustler, dilettante pimp, gambler, accessory to murder, political fixer, and finally as the strict but kindly lord of the Xanadu Casino Hotel. For fear of betrayal, he had never fully loved any human being, but he had been kind to many. He felt no regrets. Now, he looked forward to the tiny little treats left in his life. Like his afternoon journey through the Casino.
 
Croccifixio “Cross” De Lena, his right-hand man for the last five years, came into the bedroom and said, “Ready Alfred?” And Gronevelt smiled at him and nodded.
 
Cross picked him up and put him in the wheelchair, the nurse tucked the old man in blankets, the male attendant took his post to wheel. The nurse handed Cross a pillbox and opened the door of the penthouse. She would remain behind. Gronevelt could not abide her on these afternoon jaunts.
 
The wheelchair rolled easily over the false green turf of the penthouse garden and entered the special express elevator that descended the sixteen floors to the Casino.
 
Gronevelt sat straight in his chair, looking right and left. This was his pleasure, to see men and women who battled against him with the odds forever on his side. The wheelchair made a leisurely tour through the blackjack and roulette area, the baccarat pit, the jungle of crap tables. The gamblers barely noticed the old man in the wheelchair, his alert eyes, the bemused smile on his skeletal face. Wheelchair gamblers were common in Vegas. They thought fate owed them some debt of luck for their misfortune.
 
Finally the chair rolled into the coffee shop/dining room. The attendant deposited him at their reserved booth and then retired to another table to await their signal to leave.
 
Gronevelt could see through the glass wall to the huge swimming pool, the water burning a hot blue in the Nevada sun, young women with small children studding its surface like colored toys. He felt a tiny rush of pleasure that all this was his creation.
 
“Alfred, eat a little something,” Cross De Lena said.
 
Gronevelt smiled at him. He loved the way Cross looked, the man was so handsome in a way that appealed to both men and women, and he was one of the few people that Gronevelt had almost trusted during his lifetime.
 
“I love this business,” Gronevelt said. “Cross, you’ll inherit my points in the Hotel and I know you’ll have to deal with our partners in New York. But never leave Xanadu.”
 
Cross patted the old man’s hand, all gristle beneath the skin. “I won’t,” he said.
 
Gronevelt felt the glass wall baking the sunlight into his blood. “Cross,” he said, “I’ve taught you everything. We’ve done some hard things, really hard to do. Never look back. You know percentages work in different ways. Do as many good deeds as you can. That pays off too. I’m not talking about falling in love or indulging in hatred. Those are very bad percentage moves.”
 
They sipped coffee together. Gronevelt ate only a flaky strudel pastry. Cross had orange juice with his coffee.
 
“One thing,” Gronevelt said. “Don’t ever give a Villa to anyone who doesn’t make a million drop. Never forget that. The Villas are legendary. They are very important.”
 
Cross patted Gronevelt’s hand, let his hand rest on the old man’s. His affection was genuine. In some ways he loved Gronevelt more than his father.
 
“Don’t worry,” Cross said. “The Villas are sacred. Anything else?”
 
Gronevelt’s eyes were opaque, cataracts dimming their old fire. “Be careful,” he said. “Always be very careful.”
 
“I will,” Cross said. And then, to distract the old man from his coming death, he said, “When are you going to tell me about the great Santadio War? You worked with them then. Nobody ever talks about it.”
 
Gronevelt gave an old man’s sigh, barely a whisper, almost emotionless. “I know time’s getting short,” he said. “But I can’t talk to you yet. Ask your father.”
 
“I’ve asked Pippi,” Cross said. “But he won’t talk.”
 
“What’s past is past,” Gronevelt said. “Never go back. Not for excuses. Not for justification, not for happiness. You are what you are, the world is what it is.”

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4.5 out of 54.5 out of 5
878 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

DaveB.
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
America as perhaps it truly is.
Reviewed in the United States on September 19, 2021
When I began this novel, I suppose I was expecting The Godfather. At first I was a bit disappointed but as I got deeper into the story, the more I came to appreciate the richness of the story and the depth of the characters. This is a saga of power brokers in the movie and... See more
When I began this novel, I suppose I was expecting The Godfather. At first I was a bit disappointed but as I got deeper into the story, the more I came to appreciate the richness of the story and the depth of the characters. This is a saga of power brokers in the movie and gambling industries and the sacrifices that need to be made in order to remain at the top. As with the Corleones , family is foremost with the families in this novel.
I like the subtlety with which Puzo presented the scenes of violence. There is violence, to be sure, but little gratuitous gore. Puzo makes his points but doesn''t gut punch the reader while doing it. This is a story that draws the reader in slowly and deliciously.
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STEPHEN J.
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Apparently everyone in California Wears Faded Blue Denim Shirts...Everyone.
Reviewed in the United States on March 25, 2021
Count how many times a different character wears one...or how many "handsome" nurses work at Cedars Sinai...or how often we''re reminded the Don enjoys a "windowless den" for meetings...or how being a writer today is the equivalent of being a blacksmith...I read this after... See more
Count how many times a different character wears one...or how many "handsome" nurses work at Cedars Sinai...or how often we''re reminded the Don enjoys a "windowless den" for meetings...or how being a writer today is the equivalent of being a blacksmith...I read this after rereading "The Godfather" and I realized then that Coppola deserves even more credit than I thought. He breathed much more life into those characters than ol'' Mario ever could...
3 people found this helpful
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Wiseguy
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great read and a nice addition to my library.
Reviewed in the United States on November 7, 2019
Oh man, I never knew Puzo put out such good stuff other than The Godfather. The Last Don envisions a young man who is groomed to take care of a mafia Don''s family during his quest to go legitimate. What I liked best about this novel was the time spent talking about Sicilian... See more
Oh man, I never knew Puzo put out such good stuff other than The Godfather. The Last Don envisions a young man who is groomed to take care of a mafia Don''s family during his quest to go legitimate. What I liked best about this novel was the time spent talking about Sicilian clans and how the "men of honor" were aligned with one another.
3 people found this helpful
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J. D. Bremer
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The Hollywood Dons
Reviewed in the United States on January 11, 2018
This is like the Godfather-lite. I read the Kindle edition, and there were many instances of improper hyphenation, it was like the typesetter was being paid a bonus for each hyphen added. I found only one true grammatical error, the use of "ensure" rather than... See more
This is like the Godfather-lite. I read the Kindle edition, and there were many instances of improper hyphenation, it was like the typesetter was being paid a bonus for each hyphen added. I found only one true grammatical error, the use of "ensure" rather than "insure". As I finished this novel, I thought to myself, this could have been more, this could have been less.
3 people found this helpful
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Roger J. BuffingtonTop Contributor: Fantasy Books
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Excellent writing, entertaining, and a ripping good read.
Reviewed in the United States on January 4, 2004
This is an extraordinarily good read by master author Mario Puzo. It is the story of the fictional Clericuzio Family--the last great Mafia family in the United States. The Clericuzios at the height of the powers are dominant in gambling, drugs, and other related rackets.... See more
This is an extraordinarily good read by master author Mario Puzo. It is the story of the fictional Clericuzio Family--the last great Mafia family in the United States. The Clericuzios at the height of the powers are dominant in gambling, drugs, and other related rackets. But the family patriarch, Don Clericuzio, sees organized crime for the dead end that it is, and devises a plan for his progeny to eventually transition to, and enter into the "legitimate world." But his plan envisions this transition to occur on his own terms, so that when the Family indeed abandons crime, it will do so from a position of strength, entering the ordinary world with wealth and prestige.
There are problems. Some members of the family are less than enthusiastic about abandoning the underworld, and this is the nexus of the story. Nephew Cross De Lena and Grandson Dante Clericuzio fight what amounts to a secret civil war within the Family, even as the legacy of earlier terrible deeds by the great Don himself finally come home to roost. This is an entertaining and insightful story, well-written. It is equally good with beer and chips, or for a more introspective reader.
The book is not without faults. As an attorney, I can only say that Puzo''s depiction of "California juries" as regards the insanity defense, is simply asinine, and shows either a contempt for the way things really are, or a simple disregard for facts in order to entertain. OK, I guess, authors are entitled to take liberties with the truth in order to entertain us, I just thought that this particular liberty was unnecessary, since the book seems authentic in so many other ways. Whatever.
The novel''s treatment of Hollywood is hilarious. Basically, Puzo depicts the struggles of competing studios, actors, and actresses in the entertainment world as essentially a legalized mob conflict, without the guns. I don''t know much about Hollywood, so I have no comment about this except to say that here Puzo was pretty entertaining.
Overall, this was an outstanding book that makes for an excellent read.
10 people found this helpful
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Craig Daniels
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Puzo knows his writing
Reviewed in the United States on August 16, 2000
Every time I read a book by Mario Puzo, I become more and more impressed with this mans writing style. His books always have a great combination of real world brutality, goodness, sex, and all the other mixes of human experience. His sentences are simplistic and... See more
Every time I read a book by Mario Puzo, I become more and more impressed with this mans writing style. His books always have a great combination of real world brutality, goodness, sex, and all the other mixes of human experience.
His sentences are simplistic and without airs, as are the ideas of the story, and it is this simplicity that gives Puzo''s books an elegance that many modern writers lack. Mario is writing about something that is interesting and tells the reader what they need to know when they need to know it. He knows his subject material and creates a world that is interesting as well as believable.
Fools die was excellent, and then I read GodFather,and I was very impressed with that book also. I wasn''t sure about this book, but I picked it up, and saw that even though it was about the same subject material (I thought it would just be a recounting of the godather), the storyline is fresh, with new characters that become well developmed by the end of the book.
Puzo also creates fantastic characters in this book, there is a mold to run by, the old sicilian mafia mold, but the characters in this book are removed by a generation or 2 from this mentality, and it is very interesting to see how Puzo shows their lives as caught in the middle of the mafia life of their parents and grandparents, and the americanized life they lead apart from Quoge LI and the "family".
This book was great, and a great read. Any book written by Puzo is worth reading because of his fantastic writing style, this book is no exception.
25 people found this helpful
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Charles Sherry
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Inside the Mafia
Reviewed in the United States on August 15, 2021
A. very good look at the inner workings of Mafia operations in New York and Las Vegas. The inner Hollywood is also exposed to the interested outsider and many secrets are laid bare. Very interesting and believable coverage of these complex scenes.
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Barbara Poluha
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Loved this book
Reviewed in the United States on August 2, 2021
This story should be a 10. I have the original book The Godfather since it first came out, had the 2nd book also but someone walked off with it when I borrowed it to them to read. Never again no one gets my Kindle! Hope there is another book following this. Thank you... See more
This story should be a 10. I have the original book The Godfather since it first came out, had the 2nd book also but someone walked off with it when I borrowed it to them to read. Never again no one gets my Kindle! Hope there is another book following this. Thank you Mr. Puzo. 😀
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Top reviews from other countries

JEWELS1
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
THIS LOST THE PLOT VERY SOON
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 3, 2021
Having read The Godfather, I expected this to be equally exciting, but Mr Puzo goes off in other directions, and I gave up when I was about a sixth into the book. I really did not care any more if all the characters bumped each other off.Disappointing
2 people found this helpful
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Choppa
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Wrong book description
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 14, 2020
It''s a great book for any Mario Puzo lovers. The reason for two stars is the false description of the book. I CAN''T STAND sellers who don''t know they''re own products, making money of something which is not as described. It says 19.8 cm which you can clearly see from the...See more
It''s a great book for any Mario Puzo lovers. The reason for two stars is the false description of the book. I CAN''T STAND sellers who don''t know they''re own products, making money of something which is not as described. It says 19.8 cm which you can clearly see from the photo compared to an actual 19.8 cm book. Not to mention the font is so tiny, with thick bold letters, it''s making them look even darker. I''ve uploaded a photo with 1 penny for better visualisation. It''s difficult to read it that way and it stresses the eyes. Hard to enjoy reading it this way.
2 people found this helpful
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Baz
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Just a pot-boiler from Puzo
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 1, 2020
Poor effort from Puzo despite the narrative rattling along. He wasted his talent with this one. Maybe he just needed the money. Gave up in desperation halfway through. Could muster no sympathy for any of the shallow, cardboard characters, all sociopaths, psychopaths or at...See more
Poor effort from Puzo despite the narrative rattling along. He wasted his talent with this one. Maybe he just needed the money. Gave up in desperation halfway through. Could muster no sympathy for any of the shallow, cardboard characters, all sociopaths, psychopaths or at best narcissists and all on a mission to screw each other, and/or screw each other over, which they do - often. I didn''t care in the slightest what happened to them so gave up trying. Maybe that''s what Vegas/Hollywood is/was like, and I count my lucky stars I''m a long way away.
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Catspelle
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Not quite what I expected
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 30, 2017
I did enjoy this book and was surprised to find it easy reading. I decided on this as I know the story of the god father and wanted something different. great story and couldn''t find anything unessecery in it which was refreshing. Many modern authors could learn a thing...See more
I did enjoy this book and was surprised to find it easy reading. I decided on this as I know the story of the god father and wanted something different. great story and couldn''t find anything unessecery in it which was refreshing. Many modern authors could learn a thing from this author. Will read more.
4 people found this helpful
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Kimscot
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Last Don? Should have been the ''Last Book''
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 5, 2021
I know Mario Puzo is no longer with us BUT, after the amazing Godfather book, this one definitely does not live up to that. I struggled to the halfway mark then gave up.
One person found this helpful
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