The mafia is regarded with a certain kind of romanticism. I think we can thank a number of well-known films, including The Godfather and Goodfellas, for that.
However, when there is a good tale, books tend to follow, and there is undoubtedly a backlist of interesting and captivating mafia books that make use of the facts and lore.
I want to explore what “mafia” implies first before continuing. The word mafiusu, which loosely translates to “swagger,” is a Sicilian word that is the source of the phrase.
The phrase “romanticism,” in my opinion, contains the essence of the movement. The original mafia, the Italian mafia, is consistently portrayed as being composed of well-groomed, hard-nosed individuals. After that, the stories simply appear to come to life.
What Do We Mean By Mafia Books?
According to definition, a mafia is an organized crime group that engages in crimes including racketeering and gambling. The concept originated with the original Italian mafia, whether they were Sicilians or Italian Americans.
The Russian mafia, the Japanese mafia (yakuza), and other organizations have been included in the definition of mafia, for example. I’ve broadened the focus of this list to include novels about a variety of different organized crime syndicates.
The inclusion of female authors and authors of color is an additional benefit of this. I’ve listed some works on the Italian mafia, however I should point out that a sizable portion of these was authored by white men.
Young Adult Mafia Books
Children of crime bosses are frequently the main focus of young adult (YA) fiction about the mafia.
It’s intriguing how many of these YA protagonists battle to uphold their families’ traditions while also coming to terms with who they are (typical for YA fiction).
These Violent Delights By Chloe Gong
Shanghai in the year 1926 is the scene of a blood feud between two gangs. The Scarlet Gang’s heir is Juliette Cain. Then there are the White Flowers, whose heir is Roma Montagov.
These Violent Delights is a reimagining of Romeo and Juliet with gangsters and monsters haunting the streets of Shanghai, as you might have guessed from their names.
Kate Unmasked By Cindy M. Hogan
Adopted at the age of 17, Kate has always yearned to locate her biological family. Sadly, every lead ends in failure. till she comes into a secret locket.
The clue takes her to the New Jersey coast, but when she realizes who her family is, her hopes of a joyous reunion are dashed.
White Cat By Holly Black
American law forbids the practice of magic, which forces its practitioners into the shadows. One of the top five crime families that profits from the resulting criminal culture is Cassel’s family.
But when his family disintegrates and the economy struggles, Cassel is left to inherit a horrific family secret.
Hold Me Like A Breath: Once Upon A Crime Family By Tiffany Schmidt
One of the three organized crime groups that run the illicit organ trade is represented by Penelope.
Despite leading a life of affluence, Penelope has an autoimmune condition, making her particularly sensitive to the violence that surrounds her family’s line of business.
She discovers that she is tougher than she appears and that perhaps independence is achievable when she finds herself in the middle of a conflict between two competing families.
Son Of The Mob By Gordon Korman
Vince is a typical child with typical child issues. The fact that his father is the leader of a potent criminal organization is really a coincidence.
Although there are benefits to this, it has made his dating life more difficult. So it comes as quite a shock when the woman he falls for turns out to be the daughter of an FBI agent who is determined to bring Vince’s father to justice.
Adult Fiction Mafia Books
Mafia-related adult novels have a bit more depth than young adult books. While adult novels (for the most part) appear to accept characters living in the gray, YA novels have a tendency to avoid the illegal aspects of the mafia.
The Godfather By Mario Puzo
Without this masterpiece, no list of mafia books can ever be considered complete. The zeitgeist has been influenced by the Corleones and their history of avarice, blood, and loyalty.
They are a normal American immigrant family that start out selling olive oil but eventually join the mafia. The Corleone family organizes for retaliation after their patriarch is attacked.
The Road To Perdition By Max Allan Collins
The name of this book may also be familiar to you because of the movie that was made from it. Michael, a devout guy who works as an enforcer for an Irish crime family, is employed by them.
The mob’s godfather issues an order for Michael’s entire family to be put to death after his eldest son sees one of his hits. Michael sets out on a mission of vengeance when only he and his youngest kid remain alive.
Out By Natsuo Kirino
Although I’ve previously written about Out, it bears repeating. The protagonist of the novel is a young mother who murders her cheating husband and enlists the aid of her employees to cover up the crime.
The characters are taken into the yakuza’s seedy underbelly by the police during the ensuing chase.
The Thief By Fuminori Nakamura
An unidentified pickpocket known only as The Thief prowls Tokyo’s crowds while taking wallets and other small items.
In the end, he is recruited to kidnap the contents of a wealthy guy’s safe and tie up the man. It seems like a straightforward job, but the next day The Thief discovers that the victim was a prominent politician who was killed after The Thief left.
The Cartel By Ashley Antoinette And Jaquavis Coleman
Miami’s port is governed by the Diamond family, but when their patriarch passes away, their hold on power is endangered.
Carter Diamond left behind a daughter, a wife, and twin kids. He also had a son who was not his biological child, and he returned to Miami to claim his inheritance.
Nonfiction Mafia Books
It’s exciting to read books with an organized criminal premise. The reality, though, is much more fascinating, which is why the fiction is so compelling.
It’s simple to think of the mafia as the center of an interesting story, but the truth is that organized crime is quite real, and there are some well-researched books to teach you about it.
Five Families By Selwyn Raab
You’ll discover information on the five families—Genovese, Gambino, Bonnano, Colombo, and Lucchese—who turned the mafia into an empire, as the subtitle suggests.
The book charts their ascent and descent, showcasing the ferocious commanders and persistent detectives.
It’s interesting to note that the book also considers the possibility of a mafia rebirth as federal investigators prioritize homeland security above organized crime.
Confessions Of A Yakuza By Junichi Saga
Unexpectedly true tale about a doctor who recounts the events surrounding a dying patient. The patient enters the doctor’s office, removes his kimono in the exam room, and displays his fading body tattoo.
This is how the narrative starts. Former Yakuza boss who is the patient gives the doctor a compelling account of his life while also providing a peek into 20th-century Japan.
Midnight In Sicily By Peter Robb
Sicily is a historic country that has drawn both conquerors and tourists. But the La Cosa Nostra, or the Mafia, is at the center of a massive network of criminality that plagues this lovely island.
The book’s author, writer Peter Robb, spent 14 years living in Italy and set out to research the Mafia’s history and current position in the country.
Making Jack Falcone: An Undercover Fbi Agent Takes Down A Mafia Family By Joaquín “Jack” García And Michael Levin
Without bringing up the FBI and its undercover operatives, it is impossible to start a discussion about the mafia.
In order to infiltrate the Gambino crime family, an undercover FBI agent launched a multi-year operation, which is what this book chronicles in true-life form.
Yakuza Moon: Memoirs Of A Gangster’s Daughter By Shōko Tendō
Shoko Tendo is the daughter of a yakuza criminal boss, and this memoir recounts her story. Prior to Tendo’s father being imprisoned and her family falling into debt, she led a life of prosperity and luxury.
Tendo was inspired to revolt after her violently intoxicated father became a free man after being imprisoned.
Romance Mafia Books
The mafia does make for a great backdrop for romance, if you can overlook the obvious glossing over of the criminality. I guess there’s nothing better than a little danger to ignite that crucial romantic spark.
Friend-Zoned By Belle Aurora
This is a funny tale about two people who fell in love. Nikolai is not the type to fall in love, especially with a buddy.
Valentina likes to make Nikolai smile but isn’t really looking for a relationship. Although muted in this instance, the mafia element is still there.
The amusing dynamic between Nikolai and Valentina is the main point of interest.
The Kiss Thief By L.J. Shen
A dangerous love triangle involving two men has Francesca trapped. Both Wolfe, a ruthless senator who pressured Francesca into marriage, and Angelo, the son of a significant crime family, are present.
Francesca is fully committed to finding her ultimate happiness with one of these two men and to taking charge of her life at last.
The Marriage Contract By Katee Robert
It forced the marriage of Teague and CallistaThe marriage of Teague and Callista was forced upon them in order to forge a union between their two families, as depicted in The Marriage Contract.
No plans to wed Callista exist in Teague’s mind. Until he notices the bumps on her neck and makes the decision to do everything in his power to keep her safe.
Destino: A Mafia Romance By Sienna Mynx
Mira is the first well-known Black fashion designer who is sweeping Italy by storm in the height of her career.
Up until a dashing Sicilian businessman enters her life, everything is going according to plan. Mira is left wondering what harm a brief relationship might possibly cause after the whirlwind affair.
Deathless & Divided (The Chicago War) By Bethany-Kris
Why not close with another example of the arranged marriage trope? The promise Damian made to a crime boss is expected to be fulfilled.
Marriage to the man’s daughter is obviously required. Lily is coerced into returning home and getting married to Damian, a man she has never met.
She was shocked to discover Damian wasn’t who she had imagined him to be after expecting the worst.