Monday, February 12, 2007

Prizzi’s Honor, by Richard Condon

(hb; 1982: first book in the Prizzi quadrilogy)

From the inside flap:

“Charley Partanna is the sottocapo of the powerful Prizzis, a ‘Prince of Murderers’ who made his bones at the age of thirteen with his first hit. Irene Walker, ex-prostitute, ex-mob courier, is now a beautiful Los Angeles ‘tax consultant’ whose desk and ledgers hide her true identity as a freelancer of the deadliest kind.

“Charley and Irene meet. He falls helplessly in love with her, and she with him. Together, caught in the intensely brutal, intensely ‘moral’ world of the Mafia, they make love and war, until Charley’s betrayal of ‘Prizzi’s honor’ leads him inexorably to the ultimate betrayal.”


Wryness accents this jet black comedy of romantic terrors, where an atypical code of righteousness is held in esteem, even trumping one’s relations with his (or her) non-Family family. Both “straight” (non-Mob) and Mob society are slyly skewered by Condon, whose characters’ personalities shape the novel’s driving drama and intermittent action. Difficult to put down, this, between the effective humor and dialogue, relatable characters, and heartfelt (if sometimes shady) drama.

One of the best comedic books I’ve ever read about the Mafia – easily worth your time.

Followed by Prizzi’s Family.

Prizzi's Honor, the film, was released stateside on June 14, 1985. Jack Nicholson played Charley Partanna. Kathleen Turner played Irene Walker. Anjelica Huston played Maerose Prizzi. John Randolph played Angelo "Pop" Partanna. William Hickey played Don Corrado Prizzi. Robert Loggia played Eduardo Prizzi.

CCH Pounder (billed as C.C.H. Pounder) played Peaches Altamont. Lawrence Tierney played Lt. Hanley.

The film was co-scripted by author Richard Condon and Janet Roach. John Huston directed it.

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