Book Critique -
Oaths Are Forever-Or Are They?
Chris Phillips
I am a veteran editor for friends and family as well as most of my employment positions. I make books out of my friends' writing as well as help them to smooth out what they say, how they say it and hopefully get the best expressions. I have been doing this for 20+ years. I often find myself reading a book and correcting problems I see even after the works have been professional published from big name publishers.  
By Chris Phillips
Published on 08/5/2012
To children and childhood friends, oaths are the basis for living. When some boys growing up together make a pact like this, it is forever. Life changes that and so do commitments. Frankie is a detective in Brooklyn and trying to solve a string of murders and they keep happening.

Break a Promise to a Friend or to a Job

Murder Takes Time by Giacomo Giammatteo ISBN 978-0-9850302-0-9

Review by Chris Phillips

Giammatteo brings new life to the typical detective murder story. He takes the time to develop a complex plot into an attention-capturing tale of intrigue and friends betrayed, remade and destroyed.

It's not the oath that makes us believe the man, but the man the oath – Aeschylus. This quote begins the tale of a group of friends, perhaps unique in the way all Americans can be. Nicky “The Rat” Fusco, Frankie “Bugs” Donovan, Tony “The Brain” Sannullo, Tommy “Mick” McDermott form the core of this group and Chinski, Suit and Paulie finish out the gang. It seems that there is a destiny for them to be “friends forever” until years later.

“...Friendship means we look out for each other. Nobody ever rats or betrays anyone else...”

“...Honor means nobody fucks with one of us and not the others. We stick up for each other. And it means we don't run, unless we all run...”

These fateful words and the consequences of making and trying to keep childhood promises provide all the tension for the plot. 20 years after these oaths are made, Frankie is a detective for the Brooklyn Police department. Tony is in heavy with the organized crime family in the same area. Nicky is the ex-con that precipitates the action. Frankie gets called into investigate a series of murders of some apparently unrelated men in the Brooklyn area. He begins to suspect soon that there is much more going on here then just someone being murdered.

Giammatteo writes each chapter from either a third person perspective or from Nicky's personal accounting of his life with these friends. Due to the neighborhood they grow up in they live under the scrutiny of the local organized crime family, headed up by Mikey “The Face” Fagullo. Tony's mother, Mama Rosa, and Sister Mary Thomas form the character building parts for the boys as they grow up. These two major influences keep the group active and bouncing around through their teenage years. Girls become something they have to consider but deal with as only kids and teens from this era and society can: clumsily, jerkily and very self-consciously.

As is the case with many such friends, they grow up and choose different paths. They see each other, but individual purposes and ambitions pull them away from each other. Girls, family problems and the lure of money impact the group, splitting them until a crisis arises. The gang maintains the oath for most of this time, until one fateful day when a rival gang comes looking for trouble. There are teen passions, pool cues and guns involved. Ultimately gun fire erupts and lives are changed forever.

In this tale, there is a lot of right, wrong and terribly, frighteningly gray. When the time comes and it is needed for oaths to be remembered, they are forgotten and life is never the same. The murders draw them inexorably together yet again. The common thread shows how badly a betrayal of friends can mess up the men that were always supposed to be oath-bound brothers.

The characters are smoothly real. Giammatteo takes the time to develop them naturally. Each takes their fated place and struggles with the people they become. Of course with this much time to cover there are details that grow in importance with each progressive revelation. The tragedy of the way these lives move brought tears to the eyes of this reviewer. The final betrayal is brokenheartedly realistic.

Although the switching of character and traveling back and forth in time might confuse the reader at first, the progression is for the right reasons and falls into place with a gripping conclusion.

The book is appropriate for adults because of the violence and language. As stated at the beginning of the book this is the first in a series “Friendship and Honor.” This reviewer is eagerly waiting for the next one.

Published by Inferno Publishing Company,, ($12.98 USD SRP/Amazon $12.98 USD) Reviewer received book from author.