Synopses & Reviews
Now available in paperback, James Dalessandro's "riveting account of corruption, greed, and murder in the City by the Bay" (Dallas Morning News) was a best-seller in hardcover and production has begun on a major motion picture. Set during the great San Francisco earthquake and fire, this page-turning historical novel reveals recently uncovered facts that forever change our understanding of what really happened. Narrated by a feisty young reporter, Annalisa Passarelli, the novel paints a vivid picture of the Post-Victorian city, from the mansions of Nob Hill to the underbelly of the Barbary Coast to the arrival of tenor Enrico Caruso and the Metropolitan Opera. Central to the story is the ongoing battle fought even as the city burns that pits incompetent and unscrupulous politicians against a coalition of honest police officers, newspaper editors, citizens, and a lone federal prosecutor. James Dalessandro weaves unforgettable characters and actual events into a compelling epic.
"Screenwriter and novelist Dalessandro (Bohemian Heart) pens an imaginative and dense interplay between fact and fiction in this story of corruption, crime lords and the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Annalisa Passarelli, the Evening Bulletin's music critic, narrates the tale with a mix of first-person intimacy and cool omniscience. She's secretly helping the chief of detectives, Byron Fallon, gather dirt on a corrupt political syndicate headed by Adam Rolf, city attorney and power broker. Rolf (a fictional character) owns the 'puppet-mayor,' Eugene Schmitz (an actual person), and is supported by an army of goons and waterfront toughs led by the infamous Shanghai Kelly, who, as Dalessandro notes in his afterword, was actually dead by 1906. Byron aims to arrest the mayor, the police chief and the city attorney in one fell swoop, but when he is killed investigating a murder at the waterfront, it's up to his son Hunter, a Stanford graduate and fledgling police detective, to carry his mantle. Annalisa and Hunter appeal to an association of honest cops known as the Brotherhood (co-led by Hunter's brother, Christian), who are dedicated to destroying Rolf's machine, although Hunter also has personal vengeance on his mind. They secure incriminating evidence, but before justice can be served, the earthquake strikes, plunging the city into chaos. This plot and all its subplots, one starring a beautiful Kansas runaway, another featuring tenor Enrico Caruso might have worked beautifully, but Dalessandro employs too many B-movie theatrics, and the love story falls flat. Still, there's plenty of suspense to keep readers turning pages to the bittersweet conclusion." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Prelude to the disaster feels a bit like woolgathering, but Dalessandro pays off with an exciting and vivid depiction of history." Kirkus Reviews
"A bold, sweeping novel that's a richly textured, engrossing, and extraordinary tale." Vincent Bugliosi, author of Helter Skelter
Set during the great San Francisco earthquake and fire, this page-turning tale of political corruption, vendettas, romance, rescue and murder is based on recently uncovered facts that will forever change the public's understanding of what really happened.
About the Author
James Dalessandro is a San Francisco based screenwriter and author of several books, including mystery and true crime novels.