Carlita Garlucci said goodbye to her husband, Vinnie, a few short months ago, promising him on his deathbed that she would pull their three sons out of the Mafia family business in Key to Savannah by Hope Callaghan. Now as she finally is sorting through her husband’s clothes, she finds a key to a safety deposit box, which she takes her daughter, Mercedes, to check. At the bank, they learn that Vinnie added Carlita’s name to the account the same day he died — was murdered? — and open the box. There they find a deed to property in Savannah, Georgia and a dozen incredibly valuable-looking gems. So Carlita and Mercedes make up their minds to move from Queens to Savannah, to the strong opposition of Carlita’s sons.
Taking off on the spur of the moment to check out their new property, the women find an abandoned restaurant and grocery store with two apartments above them that is supposed to be haunted. They also meet their new neighbor, the tattoo artist SteveO. From him they learn that the former owner, George del Mario, was murdered six years earlier and the place left vacant ever since. After getting estimates on the work needed to fix up the place, they return home to find that someone has tried to torch their house, not the first break-in since the death of Vinnie. While putting their house on the market and getting ready to move, they find that life is still a challenge as they try to set out for a new life.
The first half of this book kept me riveted from the start. I found the plot intriguing and the characters clever. I do wonder how accurate the depictions of the wife and daughter of a member of the Mafia were. Are they really as sheltered as Carlita and Mercedes appear? Would the wife of a Mafia member really use the word “shoot” instead of the stronger expletive? However, as drawn, these women seem perfectly natural in their behavior, as Vinnie kept his wife and daughter very sheltered. The last third of the book was less exciting. The plot shifted from less of a mystery to more of a drama.
I really enjoy the performance Valerie Gilbert gives of the audiobook. She voices the characters cleverly, using distinct New York accents for the Garluccis and light Southern accents for SteveO and his sister, Autumn. I would have expected a stronger accent for the Georgia natives, but they still sound clearly distinct from the Garluccis.
I have mixed feelings about Key to Savannah. Much of it kept me drawn to the story. But I lost some of my interest the last third or so. I will probably listen to book two of this series because I loved the characters and see a lot of potential for future books. I give this book four stars.