Authors Showcase: Thirteen Days in Milan by Jack Erickson
January 1, 2015
The Book: Thirteen Days in Milan
The Author: Jack Erickson
The Story: Sylvia de Matteo, an American commercial photographer and single mother, is taken hostage by terrorists during a political assassination at Stazione Centrale, Milan’s main train station.
Moments later, a Paris-bound train with Sylvia’s ten-year old daughter and fiance aboard departs the station without Sylvia.
Sylvia is seized at gunpoint, thrown into the back of a van, blindfolded, beaten, and driven to a warehouse where she is imprisoned in a cell.
When the terrorists discover Sylvia’s father is a wealthy Wall Street investment banker, they demand a ransom for her safe release.
About Jack Erickson:
Jack Erickson is the author of mysteries, romantic suspense novels, and short mysteries. He is the former publisher of RedBrick Press and author of several books on craft brewing including the award winning “Star Spangled Beer: A Guide to America’s New Microbreweries and Brewpubs.”
He is a former U.S. Senate speechwriter and free lance writer published in The Washington Post, Washington Star, Washingtonian Magazine, and Campaigns and Elections.
He lives in northern California with his wife.
Review by Douglas L. Kennedy:
The background of this book is Italy’s history of domestic terrorism. In the 70s and 80s the country was beset by attacks launched by the Red Brigades. In their most infamous incident, in 1978, Red Brigade terrorists kidnapped a former Italian prime minister, Aldo Moro. After being held captive for 54 days Moro was killed.
Sylvia de Matteo, the self-absorbed daughter of an investment banker, is taken hostage in a terrorist attack in Milan’s central train station. Thrown into a van, beaten and then imprisoned in a filthy construction shed, she comes face to face with a harsh reality that will change her life forever.
Sylvia is desperate to be released and surprisingly is given hope by a budding relationship with one of her captors. She experiences the desperation of the terrorists and the political corruption and economic stagnation of Italy that gives rise to their act of terrorism. It is a world alien to her’s of privilege and wealth. The results of her epiphany play out in a surprising and compelling conclusion that leaves us with an appealing and sympathetic character very different from the indulgently immature character that opens the book.
Other powerful characters include Vera Pulvirenti, a former fashion model, whose career was destroyed in a motorcycle accident and who has descended into bitterness at her plight. Antonella Amoruso is a talented and determined DIGOS investigator who pursues the terrorists relentlessly.
This book will prove a rich reward for the thoughtful reader who is a student of history and the human condition.
Review by Jennifer Clark:
I loved this book!
I am mainly a fan of Jack Erickson’s whodunits, but I thoroughly enjoyed this international thriller–and I actually learned a great deal about Italy and its history in the process! This is a gripping book about an American family swept up in a crisis while in Italy.
Jack Erickson is masterful in his uncanny ability to get inside the psyche of a fanatical terrorist, Fabio, as well as that of a sweet ten-year-old girl, Angela. The characters in Thirteen Days come to life immediately, and soon you notice that they have started to live in your heart. I was especially touched by the personal transformation of Sylvia, Angela’s mother, who is kidnapped. This book reminds us of the inspirational truth that traumatic events can indeed have gifts for us if we’re open to that possibility.
This is the kind of book that you find yourself thinking about long after you finish it. Jack Erickson has written another winner. Don’t miss this one!