21 The Best Mafia Books of all Time
One genre that has been particularly popular for a long time is mafia fiction. If you’re a big fan of mafia fiction, here’s a list of the best books in the genre:
List of Top 21 Best Mafia Books
If you’re looking for something classic and exciting, this is the book for you. The Godfather has been around since 1969, and it remains one of the most popular books in America. This novel follows a mafia boss named Vito Corleone as he rises to power and his children try to keep that legacy alive despite their father’s wishes.
This book will give an inside look into how corrupt some men can be, yet at the same time show off some family values that are generally nonexistent in these types of novels. You’ll enjoy getting lost within its pages if only because of all the references made from it on pop culture, including movies, board games, music, etcetera.
This book has been made into a popular HBO series. It is about mafia crime in New Jersey, concentrating on Tony Soprano and his problems with mental illness, among other things. The book has been described as ‘the Godfather’ of the 21st century.
In the book, Tony Soprano tries to balance his family life and the problems he faces in his occupation.
Another one on the list of best mafia books is Kill Alex Cross by James Patterson. It was published in 2012 and has been a New York Times Bestseller since then. As you can see from its name, it involves some action that isn’t suitable for all ages, so this might be one to skip if there are kids around while reading!
James Patterson takes us through Alex Cross’s life as he tries to find a serial killer in the book. He believes that it will be easy but soon realizes how wrong he is when the murderer turns out to be supposedly dead for ten years. The two of them go back and forth, trying to outsmart one another in a game that neither can win.
Kill Alex Cross is not the book for everyone as it covers some very dark themes, but if you are looking for a read with lots of action, this might be your best bet!
Another interesting read is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. This novel was adapted into a movie that premiered in October of 2014, and it had great success at the box office. In this book, we follow Nick Dunne on his quest to find out what happened to his wife after missing on their fifth wedding anniversary. The author presents us with an exciting collection of characters affected differently when Amy disappears from her regular life without a trace.
A good read for people who enjoy mystery stories or suspense novels dealing with relationship problems between family members and friends while weaving through different twists towards solving the main problem: Where is Amy?
5. A Quiet Belief in Angels by Maile Meloy
As the title suggests, this story takes place in a New Mexico town and the narrator, an 11-year-old girl, tells us about how her life is shattered when she discovers the headless body of her schoolmate. The book gives you goosebumps, but it also teaches empathy and responsibility.
The book is inspired by the real-life case of Kenneth McDuff, a convicted murderer and rapist who was executed in 1998. He kidnapped three girls from grocery stores between December 1991 and April 1992 before killing them.
In the book, Bill Hodges, the protagonist of Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers, is on a mission to find out if Morris Bellamy robs from the rich or gives to the poor after he discovers that his favorite author John Rothstein has been killed for writing about real-life crimes in his books. The novel was published by Scribner in November 2017 and became Stephen King’s third number one bestseller within three weeks of its release.
The story begins with an armed robbery at a Mcdonald’s. It ends up becoming more complicated than it seems when we get insight into each character’s past lives, including Brady Hartsfield, who appears as “Mr. Mercedes” in another book by Stephen King titled Mr. Mercede. This book covers themes such as the thin line between good and evil and the power of forgiveness after tragedy strikes, shown by Brady’s mother, Irene.
This book has been on Publisher’s weekly top ten books list for three consecutive weeks since its release in November 2017. It is one of the best mafia books for anyone who enjoys reading suspense novels.
7. The Sicilian by Andrea Camilleri
Andrea Camilleri’s “The Sicilian” traces the story of a young police officer as he navigates his way through a series of murders. The cast is filled with interesting characters and even more colorful locales, bringing this highly atmospheric novel to life. Most importantly, though, it evokes emotion. When reading, you’ll feel angry at one moment and sad at another. The characters come alive, and the tale lingers with you long after you’ve finished it.
8. American Tabloid by James Ellroy
The American Tabloid is an organized crime novel by James Ellroy, the first of his Underworld USA trilogy. It is written in an unconventional style consisting mainly of short, clipped sentences and dialogue, punctuated with ellipses and many dashes. The book covers 1955–1960 and centers on three characters: Ed Exley of Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), Wendell “Bud” White of the LAPD, and a gangster named Kemper Boyd, who has connections with organized crime in California.
The story follows these three men as they intersect while each is manipulating events behind the scenes for his ends. As time passes, it becomes clear that their efforts are sometimes closely coordinated, though not always smoothly so. Alliances shift quickly when necessary without informing or being informed by anyone other than those immediately involved in them at any given moment until late in the novel. The only exception to this general rule occurs during the book’s last line, which is spoken by a character who has been dead for several hundred pages.
This novel was adapted into a 1995 film also named American Taboo directed by Jim McBride and written by James Ellroy. The movie stars Perry King, Michael Madsen, and Don Johnson as Kemper Boyd/Ward Littell, Ed Exley, and Jack Vincennes.
It’s hard not to mention the book Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi. This non-fiction book follows Henry Hill, a mobster and former associate of the Lucchese crime family. After becoming an FBI informant in 1980, he turned on his criminal associates. He went into witness protection with his wife and children after testifying against some major players in the mafia.
This is truly a perfect book about organized crime because it’s told from such a unique perspective: that of an insider who was at ground zero for many extensive operations during the 1970s and 80s before turning on them all to become federal evidence.
Unlike other classic mafioso tales, Wiseguy is not entirely fiction. It’s based on actual events that occurred in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, but Pileggi conducted hours upon hours of interviews with Hill to get even more insight into what it was like being a high-ranking member of an organized crime family right when everything changed for them due to legal consequences from increased FBI activity within their community.
This book truly shows how this one man went through every stage possible in his life as a gangster up until he finally chose the straight and narrow over continuing down a dark path full of drugs, violence, and jail time. The best part about reading books written by insiders is seeing just how much you can learn about mob culture just by following someone who lived it and was willing to share it all.
The book Underboss is about Sammy Gravano, known as “The Bull” and for his large physique. He worked under John Gotti, one of the most well-known mafia bosses in history. First published in 2000, it tells how he joined the Mafia at age 12 by killing a drug dealer over an unpaid debt. This book is full of events that will stun you, like when he killed his best friend after only knowing him for three weeks or having to watch his brother get murdered right before his eyes!
In the book, Gravano claims he regrets his life of crime but that “you can’t turn back the clock.” He admits an addiction to killing and says that he enjoyed it while some people are deterred by it or feel sorry for their victims.
Although this book is very long with 500 pages, I would recommend reading it because the excitement in each chapter will enthrall you!
11. The Last Don
The Last Don is the first of Mario Puzo’s mafia books and follows a Don of New York who must decide which one of his two sons will succeed him. Puzo’s use of telling the story from different perspectives, including through a novel within a novel format, gives this book an exciting twist. The second half of the book is set in Sicily during WWII and tells how Don Domenico Clericuzio turned his family into one of New York’s most powerful Mafia families.
This was made into an HBO movie starring Danny Devito, which you can watch.
12. A Family Business by Mario Puzo
The author Mario Puzo wrote this in cooperation with his brother about the family business. This novel is based on actual events and was published in 1963. The main character, Santino Corleone (also known as Sonny), has to take over at a young age when there’s an assassination attempt on his father, Vito. He starts working together with Tom Hagen, who becomes like another son for Vito after he loses his son during the war.
The book describes how the mafia works and was turned into a movie in 1972.
13. Honor Thy Father and Mother (aka Blood Oath)by Jimmy Breslin
This book by Jimmy Breslin is a stellar example of why mafia books are so compelling. The protagonist is a mobster, but he struggles with his role as an informant for the FBI. He has been torn between being loyal to those who have helped him succeed and keeping promises despite their illegality.
In addition to Breslin’s poignant writing style, Blood Oath is punctuated by powerful quotes from other influential figures such as Robert Duvall and Edward G Robinson that speak about honor among thieves or turning one’s life around after serving time in prison. This combination makes Blood Oath a must-read book if you want more insight into what it means to be part of La Cosa Nostra!
14. Road to Perdition by Max Allan Collins
The book follows the lives of Michael and his son, Mike Jr., as they try to escape their life in crime. In the book, the author uses a lot of character development and technical dialogue to explain the lifestyle. The book exposes how one man, family-oriented, will be faced with decision-making that ultimately takes him down a dark path, including his wife’s death and son’s kidnapping. This book is one of the best mafia books out there.
The book won a few awards, including The National Book Award for Best Juvenile Fiction (2003), New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age (2003), and was nominated for two more awards.
15. My Gun Is Quick (Richard Kuklinski)
The notorious mafia hitman describes how he killed over 100 people in the book My Gun is Quick by Richard Kuklinski. As a young man growing up in New Jersey, he learned to shoot guns and use explosives from his mob contacts. He became known as “The one-man army” because of his proficiency with weapons. When you read this book, it becomes clear that there was no remorse or guilt for all the murders committed by carrying out orders from various mafia bosses. He was a tough guy who did not care about anyone else.
He eventually became known as “The Iceman” because he froze his victims to make them harder to find and also began experimenting with cyanide. Although Kuklinski writes this book, it has been said that many of the stories included in the text were made up for dramatization purposes. Some of these murders sound like they could be taken from an action movie script, but there are some disconcerting scenes, such as when he cut off two fingers from the corpse’s hand so that police would know what happened if they found him before he had time to dispose of all evidence (Kuklinsky). This guy earned his place on our list!
16. A Criminal and an Irishman (Henry Hill, Nicholas Pileggi, Teresa Carpenter)
In this book, a former mobster recounts the true tale of his life in New York’s Lucchese crime family. The author Henry Hill, who is now retired from organized crime and working as an informant for federal agencies, provides us with never-before-heard stories about the inner workings of this secret society plaguing America since the 1920s.
Hill was raised by members of such mafia syndicates, including the Gambino Family and Bonanno Crime Family out of Brooklyn, NY, under Carlo Gambino and Joseph Masseria. He worked closely with Paul Vario (Jimmy Burke), James Burke (Jackie), Tommy DeSimone (Stevie Beef), and Robert Beringer to commit various crimes around the New York City area.
Hill was able to get away with his crimes until he became too greedy and tried to set up a robbery of Lufthansa airlines which led him to get caught. The book is narrated by Hill’s co-author Nicholas Pileggi, who gives us insight into the real-life events in the Brooklyn Mafia family during the 1970s, 1980s, and later years. This New York Times bestseller remains one of the most accurate accounts of how this underworld operates around the globe even today.
17. Mob Daughter (Diane Dimond and Shirley Wershba-Hickey)
Diane Dimond and Shirley Wershba-Hickey wrote the book Mob Daughter. It was published in 2010, then republished as Mob Daughter: The Mafia, Sammy “the Bull” Gravano and Me.
It is a true story about the author’s daughter, who had been involved with some evil people during her teenage years. Her child even had a baby at an early age, but it died before its first birthday because of respiratory problems that led to pneumonia complications. That event made them realize there were more important things than staying on the wrong side of the law; she realized how much she loved life after losing her son and decided to change her ways for good, including getting closer to God again, like when she was young.
The book is excellent for people who enjoy reading about crime and criminals, especially those that love to read stories or autobiographies where everything turned out well or with a happy ending after all. For these types of readers, this story will impact them, mainly because it has happened to someone they know personally, making their life seem more real than just fiction by an author.
18. Gangster Squad by Paul Lieberman and Ruben Martinez
If you enjoy movies like “The Untouchables” or “Donnie Brasco,” this is the book for you. Gangster Squad follows Mickey Cohen and his gang of mobsters in LA after WWII. You follow two LAPD detectives on their quest to stop him at all costs by any means necessary – even if it means breaking some rules along the way. This is an excellent book for anyone who wants to know more about the history of organized crime in Los Angeles.
19. The Valachi Papers
This book was written by Peter Maas and published in 1968. It is based on the true story of Joseph Valachi, a low-ranking member of Cosa Nostra who became the first-ever Mafioso to acknowledge his membership publicly.
This book received critical acclaim from many prominent publications, including The New York Times Book Review, and garnered praise for its readability and detail.
In the book, Valachi describes the oath of Omertà, a code of conduct and loyalty that plays an integral role in how Mafiosi live their lives. The book also describes the origins of Cosa Nostra and how criminals created it in Sicily.
This is an excellent book for anyone who wants to learn more about where organized crimes originated from, what life as a Mafioso entails, or who wants access to inside knowledge on mafia oaths.
20. Blood Brotherhoods-The Rise of the Italian Mafias in America, Revised Edition
This book provides a history of the Italian Mafia in America. It discusses how immigrants from Sicily formed criminal societies that have become very influential today. This book has been cited by many other books and articles on organized crime, so it is an excellent source for people who want to learn more about this topic.
The author focuses specifically on Cosa Nostra (the American branch) and Camorra (in Italy). He also addresses why they succeeded where previous immigrant groups had failed—namely, through their ability to work within corrupt institutions like unions or law enforcement agencies while remaining outside them, at least enough not to be seen as direct participants themselves.
The writing is apparent and concise, making it easy to read. The author did a lot of research for this book, drawing on old newspaper articles, declassified government reports, and other sources that bring the information alive in an exciting way. It’s one of those books you won’t want to put down once you’ve started reading! If you’re looking for a great Mafia book with lots of insider stories about how things work—and don’t work—this might be just what you need.
21. The Day of the Owl by Leonardo Sciascia (1961)
In this book, Sciascia tries to solve the riddle of a double murder in which shots from behind killed both victims. The policeman who investigates the crime doesn’t understand anything about it, but Sciascia’s answer is that there are no answers.
The author makes an analogy between the Mafia and cancer in society, where everything is corrupt.
This book was awarded the “Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa” prize for Italian literature in 1963.
The list mentioned above consists of some of my favorite Mafia books that I have read, and they are all different from each other – whether it’s set during WWII or modern-day. The stories cover everything from mobsters on Wall Street to gangsters trying to stay alive while being hunted by another family. In short, these mafia-related novels will keep you entertained until your heart’s content!