Author puts his heart into Mafia tale

Catchline: MAFIAEB''Sheffield-born writer Daniel Kenyon publishes book on Mafia.
Catchline: MAFIAEB''Sheffield-born writer Daniel Kenyon publishes book on Mafia.

A WRITER and translator from Sheffield now living in Sicily has written a crime thriller about the Mafia based on his own investigations.

The Savage Heart of Palermo by Daniel Kenyon is the story of a young Irish-Italian-American who leaves behind a troubled past in Chicago and comes to Sicily to turn his life around and also to connect with the homeland of his late mother.

Soon 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 with a new breed of Cosa Nostra forced to adapt to new competition from Palermo’s immigrant gangs.

Our hero is unwittingly drawn into their world as he begins to find himself falling in love with a seemingly unattainable woman.

“All this is against the backdrop of a beautiful historic city full of contrasts,” says Kenyon. “Palermo has a wild and savage heart. It is also a city subject to change and 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.”

Kenyon, aged 34, grew up in the village of Crane Moor near Thurgoland and in his teens moved to Burngreave “which is a remarkably similar area to Ballarò and Santa Chiara in Palermo, of which I have written about extensively in my book.”

He once worked as a journalist in Northern Ireland for the Ballymoney Times and has written four crime thrillers. “Four years ago I left to travel and broaden my horizons. I went to Italy to practise my Italian, of which I am now fluent,” he reports,

“I work as a translator and have published many scuba diving manuals (very popular in Sicily) and I am currently translating from Italian into English the Universal History of Islam, which deals with a lot of controversial issues, by Gamal Abdel-Karim, to be published this year.”

The Savage Heart of Palermo is a mixture of real people whose name he has changed “to protect myself and some people who I know who are not squeaky clean” and real incidents from Palermo and other parts of Italy.

“Many other parts of the book are entirely fictional but are based on a ‘what if’ type of scenario. What if Cosa Nostra became very powerful again and went to war once more? I wanted to imagine what it would be like in the Palermo of today.”

Proceeds from sales will go to an anti-Mafia organisation called Addiopizzo (goodbye protection money) which encourages people and businesses not to pay extortion money and also to an immigration centre in Palermo that helps foreign kids learn Italian and integrate into Italian life.

The Savage Heart of Palermo can be pre-ordered from