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Prizzi's Honor

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Prizzi's Honor is a satirical crime novel by Richard Condon published in 1982. It is the first of four novels featuring the Prizzis, a powerful family of Mafiosi in New York City. In all four novels the main protagonist is a top member of the family named Charlie Partanna. It was adapted into a successful film of the same name.

Plot summary

The opening lines of the New York Times review summarize the complexities of the novel:

CHARLEY PARTANNA, underboss of the Prizzi crime family, has a problem. He's just bumped off a traitor in Vegas who'd fleeced the organization to the tune of $720,000 - and now he's discovered that his new girlfriend, Irene, was the dead man's wife. As if that weren't enough of a headache, Charley's also learned that she's been augmenting her income as a tax consultant by working as a freelance hitter, and that she's now been offered a contract by a family rival to do the number on him. What a business for a woman! Charley grouses. This is a serious thing. We were going to get married. You think she decided what business? asks his father, Angelo, consigliere to the Prizzis. She's an American! She had a chance to win even more money so she grabbed it![1]

Complexity builds upon complexity, irony builds upon irony, murder follows murder, and tension mounts as the improbable story of the two killers races to its climax.

Condon style

While making love: "It was like being locked in a mailbag with eleven boa constrictors." page 68

"The way he did this was whisper into Vincent's ear in Sicilian, then Vincent spoke it into the microphone in Brooklynese, dumping the words out of the depths of his stomach the way a piled wheelbarrow is emptied by upending it." page 59

Franklin Heller is the mayor of New York. page 158

Dr. Abraham Weiler is the best orthopedic surgeon in the Northwest, page 230

Real-life names in the book

All of Condon's books have, to an unknown degree, the names of real people in them as characters, generally very minor or peripheral. The most common, which appears in most of his books, is some variation of Franklin M. Heller. The real-life Heller was a television director in New York City in the 1950s, '60s, and 70s, who initially lived on Long Island and then moved to a house on Rockrimmon Road in Stamford, Connecticut.[2] In this book Marxie Heller plays a somewhat more important role than usual, being the husband of Charley's future wife, Irene, before being shot to death by Charley in the garage of Irene's Los Angeles home.


Publisher's Weekly

for Prizzi's Glory:

External links

  • New York Times review
  • Remembrance of Frank Heller," by Ira Skutch, at