The Savage Heart of Palermo

The Savage Heart of Palermo is a fast paced crime thriller, with dark humour and an upbeat love story. It tells the tale of Joe Kelly, a young Irish-Italian-American, who flees from the States to Palermo, the traditional heartland of the Mafia. 

Joe’s mother was Sicilian, but she was killed in a botched mugging when he was very young. Coming to Sicily is a way for him to feel close to her and discover a little about who she was.

He is escaping from a troubled past in a poor crime ridden district of Chicago. He has stolen a considerable amount of money from an extremely dangerous pusher and is wanted for questioning by the police in relation to a burglary that he did not commit. 

Coming down from drugs and desperate to turn his life around completely, he donates half of this money to charity and uses the rest to set up his new life on what he thinks will be a Mediterranean paradise. 

Soon enough, he discovers that Palermo is no easier than the place he ran away from. After almost two decades of relative quiet the Mafia is once again ready to rear its ugly head in Palermo. This new breed of Cosa Nostra is not entirely like the cool calculated one we all remember from the Godfather. 

Due to competition from Palermo’s immigrant gangs it has been forced to adapt. In order to make its presence felt it has adopted a more gung-ho approach to violence. Joe realizes that he has arrived right in the middle of a new Mafia war, in which two rival crime families fight bitterly for supremacy.

He witnesses a young man shot dead in a public place in front of his girlfriend. But without a stay-permit and wanted for questioning by the police in America he is forced to bite his tongue and remain hidden in the shadows. 

Joe knows that he has relatives on his mother’s side that live near Palermo. He arranges to meet them for the first time and an attraction is immediately sparked between himself and his second cousin, the young, intelligent, and beautiful Rossella.

He makes friends with Moses, a charismatic African man, who talks him into investing in his small-time hash business. It all starts off harmlessly enough but soon things get out of hand and Joe finds himself involved in things much worse than anything he had run away from. 

On top of that, he is falling in love with a woman that he thinks he can’t have; Rossella is related to him and she has a boyfriend. Rossella’s boyfriend, Francesco Fortunato, is a womanising bully who treats her very badly. 

All this is against the backdrop of a beautiful historic city full of contrasts. Palermo has a wild and savage heart. It is also a city subject to change. The influx of immigrants from Bangladesh, Africa, and eastern Europe creates a cultural melting pot that adds an entirely new dimension to a capital steeped in traditional Sicilian culture. This book addresses some of the very real racial issues that Italy faces today.

The Savage Heart of Palermo is a journey that explores a person’s desire and struggle to change. It explores the phenomenon of conscience and the real meaning between right and wrong. For Joe, it is a journey of self discovery in which he learns again to feel love and to treasure and protect that which is important in life and to reject that which is detrimental.

The characters, places and events in this book will stay with the reader for a long time.

My double vision is to create awareness through my book, which is fiction based on a lot of fact. I want to help create a better, more cosmopolitan Palermo and tackle some of the real issues that immigrants face here, whilst creating a stronger economy by encouraging people not to pay protection money to the Mafia.

Proceeds go to Addiopizzo (an anti-mafia racketeering organisation) and Santa Chiara Immigration centre in Palermo who help non residents with many things, including asylum, bureaucracy and even free Italian lessons.


About danielkenyon

I was born in England in 1977, with Irish ancestry and graduated in literature at the university of Ulster in Northern Ireland, where I took a great interest in the troubles and paramilitary activity. I have been travelling and living around Europe since 2000. I lived in Prague for one year where I worked in the adult tourist industry and walked the mean dark streets, dealing with pick pockets, Russian Mafia, Nigerian drugs gangs and Bulgarian Gypsy prostitutes. I have lived in Palermo, Italy, since 2007, where I have extensively researched Sicilian history and the Mafia. Like a moth to a flame, I am drawn to the poorest and most crime ridden areas to gain inspiration. For me, the invisible or untouchable people are the most real and human of all. They feature heavily in all my writing. My latest fact based crime thriller is called The Savage Heart of Palermo. Much of the book was inspired by real people, places and events. All names have been changed to protect the guilty and myself. I myself am an ex criminal and drug user who has spent periods of time in prison, hence my interest in crime fiction and noir. I have a wealth of experience to draw from. I always write from the point of view of the criminals and the police are very marginal in my books. I find them boring. Some of my characters are like myself, 'bad boys turned good' and others are just bad to the bone. I am currently working on another crime thriller and para-paranormal noir romance about Irish Travellers and Romany Gypsies, entitled, The Bare Knuckle Fighter. I am also reviewing my memoirs from Prague, entitled The Dark Streets of Prague and hope to have them to a publishable standard before long. My real life is stranger than the fiction I write. As you will find, in The Bare Knuckle Fighter, I am interested in playing around with and hinting at the paranormal (hence para-paranormal) but never rendering it completely supernatural, as I want to leave the reader with more questions than satisfaction. Paradoxically, I am a die hard sceptic who likes the idea of the unknown. I am self employed and work as a writer, editor, journalist, translator, English teacher and general dog's body. I live each day at a time on the fringes of society. I have no idea where I will be in ten minutes time, let alone ten years. I am fluent in Italian and have translated books, including scuba diving manuals and the Universal History of Islam. One of my hobbies is reading Italian noir fiction in which crimes are rarely solved. Italians are the masters of pessimistic style crime thrillers. I hope you will be reading my work soon and that you will have strong feelings about it.
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3 Responses to The Savage Heart of Palermo

  1. I read your first chapter on Amazon. Lots of suspense!
    I’m prepping a Manhattan suspense novel, Picnic in Eden, for ebook format–looks like lots of work!
    Take a look at my book The Common Garden on Amazon. And stories at my Web site,
    I have a daugther in England, an archeologist. I live in Florida now, but liked Manhattan best.
    If you need any editing–line editing–proofreading on your Prague book, you can call on me. It’s what I do in the real world.


  2. Daniel, check out my website, I post “English teacher” type hints I’ve used in my English classes. These are little cheat sheet things that are sometimes helpful to students. Have a happy day, Corinda

  3. Jeff Streeby says:

    Call for translations: important contemporary Italian poetry to English. Respond to this email or to for details and guidelines.

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