The Vatican and the Mafia – why Italy can’t seem to shake off organised crime

35 min listen

The Sicilian Mafia is one of the most murderously amoral organisations on the planet – yet babyishly sentimental when it comes to Italian peasant Catholicism. And, like other branches of Italian organised crime, questions exist over whether they have allies in the Vatican, some of whose senior officials are as keen on money-laundering as the Mafia, only not so good at covering their traces.  The relationship between the hitmen and the hierarchy casts an exotic shadow over a new series of thrillers by Alexander Lucie-Smith, the first of which, The Chemist of Catania, has just been published. To quote A.N. Wilson, Lucie-Smith’s plots are fast and his characters unforgettable. ‘Menace, suspense,

The making of The Godfather was almost as dramatic as the film: Paramount+’s The Offer reviewed

It’s hard to imagine in the wake of GoodFellas, The Sopranos and Gomorrah but there was a time, not so long ago, when the very existence of the Mafia was widely dismissed as an urban myth. What changed was Mario Puzo’s 1969 bestselling novel The Godfather, which sold nine million copies in two years. You might assume, not unreasonably, that the 1972 movie version – now acknowledged as one of the greatest films of all time – was one of the most obvious commissions in Hollywood history. But it was dogged by so much controversy and plagued by so many disasters that it was very nearly stillborn. Every stage in

Impossibly exciting: Sky Atlantic’s ZeroZeroZero reviewed

ZeroZeroZero is the impossibly exciting new drugs series from Roberto Saviano — the author who gave us perhaps my all-time favourite TV drama Gomorrah. What I love about Gomorrah is its utter ruthlessness and total artistic integrity. It’s set amid the warring drugs factions of the Neopolitan mafia (the Camorra) and never at any point do you feel that authenticity is being sacrificed for reasons of marketability or politically correct sensitivities or narrative arc. Not without reason has it been called the series ‘where characters die before they become characters’. Saviano himself has paid a terrible price for his honesty. He grew up among those Neapolitan gangs — ‘I saw