Paradise Salvage by John Fusco
Nunzio Paradiso is 12 and his father decides that this summer he will start working at the family salvage yard. Instead of the last summer of freedom Nunzie had planned, he instead finds himself in the middle of a mystery that no one else believes. When a car is towed in, he has the chance of discovery when he goes through the cushions, glove compartment, and trunk. He has found coins, clothes, and girlie magazines. But this summer starts with a gruesome surprise.
He decides to check out the car they just brought in. His Dad has already marked it for the crusher to be turned into a cube of metal and shipped to Japan. But Nunzio still wants to look for treasure. When he opens the trunk, he sees a body in there. He is so shocked he slams the lid. Then Dad grabs the car in the forks and feeds it into the crusher, never noticing Nunzie’s frantic motions or hearing the shouts over the noise of the huge, metal twisting machine. When Nunzie tells what he saw, no one believes him.
Eventually his older brother, Danny, decides that perhaps, just perhaps, Nunzie actually saw a body. The two of them approach the cousin who is persona non gratis in the family. Angelo was a cop who made a mistake and has paid for it since. This strange trio start digging into the mystery of an unknown body and the car it was in. Before they are done, they have uncovered secrets that will change their lives.
Paradise Salvage is a suspense novel that keeps the reader guessing. When a thread is unraveled, a new, tighter knot is discovered. It also is a glorious description of a second and third generation ethnic neighborhood in a New England factory city. The Old Country traditions from Italy are melded with the New Country realities. The families are tight and together in generations. The middle generation has to bring the adjustments to living in the United States for their children and help their parents who came over on the ship. Grandpa Paradisio had gone against the tradition of the factory and started his own business, the salvage yard.
The rich Italian backdrop enhances this novel. The suspense keeps teasing the reader. The language is coarse, often vulgar. The family values are tight.
Notice: Non-graphic violence, Strong indecent language