Bookstore shelves are filled with thrillers pitting courageous heroes against organized crime or terrorists. But until now we have not seen criminal and terrorist organizations pitted against each other. This inspired concept is the basis of THE WOLF, the latest novel from Lorenzo Carcaterra.
THE WOLF, the first book in what promises to be a blockbuster series, shows us the events that drive the heads of the International Organized Crime Syndicate to declare war on the international terror networks. It turns out that mobsters can be much more effective than law enforcement, which is out-numbered and encumbered by all those pesky rules.
In the novel, the highest levels of organized crime are led by Vincent “The Wolf” Marelli. He may not be a “good guy” in the traditional sense, but as the author says, if you met Vincent at a party, you’d be charmed by him.
“He’s smart and has a wide variety of interests—from art history to sports to music and movies,” Carcaterra says. “In short, he can speak on any subject and will be as interested in you as you are in him. You could speak for hours and come away having had a pleasant time and yet knowing very little about who he really is and what he really does. He is adept at keeping the focus on you and the glare away from him.”
None of that takes away from the fact that The Wolf is a criminal, and the character makes no excuses for the life he leads and the world he lives in. But he is also an unconventional hero, as Carcaterra explains. “He is doing battle with a greater evil than he presents. You want Vincent on your side in a battle. You would not want a terrorist on your side. So in that sense he is indeed a hero.”
Why would organized crime go after the agents of terror? It’s primarily a business decision. As the author makes clear, organized crime thrives when the world is stable, when business is brisk, and people are eager to travel and spend money. The safer the world stage, the more money they take in. On the other hand, terrorists thrive on chaos and fear. But that leads to more intense law enforcement, less travel, and less spending.
But of course, that’s not the only reason The Wolf goes after them.
“For Vincent it is personal,” Carcaterra says. “His wife and daughters were killed by a terrorist act. He needs to find the people behind that act and kill every single one.”
The author makes the difference between the two groups very clear. The terrorists are simply out to destroy. They aren’t after money, just death and destruction. They think nothing of sacrificing innocents to further their cause. His criminals, on the other hand, are in the business of making profit off their illegal activities.
“They do not kill for pleasure—they kill for a reason,” Carcaterra says, “with betrayal the most common one. And there is a structure in place that requires high-level kills to be sanctioned and not to be done on a whim. They are vicious in their dealings but in no way would they bomb a church or seek to kill a child or an elderly woman or anyone without a reason.”
A lesser author might see this as a standalone novel, but Carcaterra sees plenty of material for a series. There is much to explore with both the subject matter and the title character. And this war can bring many different factions of organized crime into play.
“THE WOLF introduces us to the Camorra,” Carcaterra says. “The next one will bring in the Yakuza—the Japanese branch of organized crime. There was simply too much material and too many stories to contain it all in one book.”
He also looks forward to seeing how Vincent evolves—a man with complete control of his criminal world but with a personal life constantly in a state of flux. As a writer on Law & Order and other television dramas, Carcaterra knows the importance of character development. He says his TV writing has influenced his novels… and vice versa.
“Writing scripts has made my novels tighter and better and writing novels has made me a better storyteller and screenwriter,” he says. “In scripts you tell more than you show and in books you have as big a canvas as you wish to work on. But with scripts you are limited by time and budget and it makes you focus on character—building that character line by line.”
With so many ideas Carcaterra hopes the series has a long run, and he has a clear vision of where it should go.
“I think the battles will escalate, grow more intense, more complex, more fraught with risk and danger,” he says. “I would like to see how Vincent and other characters grow and evolve and if they all survive the battles. I am excited about the new characters each new novel will introduce and each new adversary that needs to be met and confronted. And most of all, it would be great if Vincent found time to fall in love once again and get a chance to sit back and enjoy that as he watches his son turn into a man.”
Will any of that happen? We will all have to stay tuned to find out. And to get in on the ground floor you need to start with book one, THE WOLF, and witness the beginning of the war between the bad guys and the worse guys.
Number one New York Times bestselling author Lorenzo Carcaterra’s highly successful career spans more than twenty years of writing for the diverse fields of fiction, non-fiction, television, and film.
Born and raised in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, Carcaterra landed his first job in the newspaper business as a copy boy for The New York Daily News in 1976. He worked his way up to entertainment reporter before leaving the paper in 1982, heading for the green pastures of then-Time Inc. and TV-Cable Week, as senior writer. Nine months later, the magazine folded, leaving him unemployed. A four-month stint at People Magazine was followed by an odyssey of writing for a string of start-up publications – Picture Week, Entertainment Tonight Magazine, Special Reports Magazine – and freelancing for dozens of others – The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Newsday Sunday Magazine, Family Circle, Ladies Home Journal, and Twilight Zone Magazine, among them.
To learn more about Lorenzo, please visit his website.