Three Little Pigs: A Novel by Apostolos Doxiadis

Release Date: March 21, 2016

 

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It’s the early twentieth century and Ben Frank made a terrible mistake. He killed the only son of a powerful mafia kingpin. Ben has three sons; Al, Nick and Leo. The mafia boss places a “maledizone” (curse) on Ben’s sons—each will die in their forty-second year. Can the brother’s evade the curse?

 

 

 

Canelo Press sent me a copy of this novel in exchange for my review.

Three Little Pigs is a literary masterpiece. Beautifully written, the novel stands at a light 219 pages and flows like a babbling book in the reader’s consciousness. A narrator, who seems to delight in the tale, relates the story to the readers of brothers trying to beat the fate assigned to them the night their father killed another man in a drunken rage. The narrator tells the story in a fashion that takes us forward in time and then back again, though the flow is logical and easy to follow.

The narrator starts with the story of the father, Ben Frank. We see and understand his rise as an Italian immigrant as a shoemaker in America and his decline when he loses his beloved wife and kills the kingpin’s son. It’s then the lead characters—the sons, take center stage. The two older sons have kept the story of the curse from their brother (who was too young at the time be told). Al, the oldest, understands that the curse will come from a prearrangement the soon-to-be-late kingpin has made, so his goal is to buy off the person coming to carry out the vendetta.

The character that I enjoyed most is the narrator. He’s the man telling a story in a bar and he delights in his subject. He interacts with the reader. “Why do you raise your eyebrows, Signore?” he asks (location 104). Later he explains the term “up the river” as his audience is too “law abiding” to know what the phrase might mean. Our narrator is an expert in the storytelling craft and his stunningly good interjections keep the subject matter from being too out of the box. When the man tasked with carrying out the vendetta is introduced, he ties the reader back to the mobster in an intimate way. This gives a believable edge as to why this is truly the only connection that could be trusted with such a personal task from the older man who dies very early on in this tale.

Al, Nick and Leo are unique characters that are well rounded. Al is the smart one who never misses a chance. It’s his idea to get so wealthy that he can pay the person who comes for him and his brothers to change their plans. Nick isn’t quite as smart and has a more troubled life than his older brother, going from one tight spot to the next. An actor with a drug problem, his idea is to appeal to his fans. Leo is the brother who doesn’t know about the curse. He will be the last to turn 42, so if his brothers can’t buy or impress the killer, he’s doomed….or is he?

Three Little Pigs is a story that takes its time. We get to know each of the four main characters and when it comes to the actual task, the pace slows and the reader savors the “will it or won’t it happen” tension. Can the brothers save themselves from the consequences of the sins of their father? Readers get insight into the way the Mafia of the piece works so that toward the end everything comes together in a logical way leaving readers with the knowledge that they have just read something very well written, well plotted and well paced.

If you’re looking for a period piece that is a very different sort of literary fiction, pick Three Little Pigs up today. You will not be disappointed.

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Apostolos Doxiadis is an internationally award-winning Greek writer whose best-selling novel, “Uncle Petros and Goldbach’s Conjecture,” brought mathematics into fiction. “Logicomix,” a graphic novel of the epic quest for certainty in science and logic, was published in 2009 and immediately became an international bestseller. Apostolos also co-edited Circles Disturbed: the Interplay between Mathematics and Narrative. He lives in Oxford.

For more information about Apostolos Doxiadis, visit his website. You can connect with him on Goodreads.