The Next Chapter

Caterina Edwards on mysteries and Mafiosos

The Edmonton author on her Mafia mystery and what makes the crime novel an ideal genre for examining a society.
Caterina Edwards is the author of Finding Rosa, a memoir about her Italian mother's struggle with Alzheimer's. The Sicilian Wife is her latest novel.

Caterina Edwards was eight when her family moved to Canada, and she spent her summers growing up with her mother's Italian family in Venice. The contrast in cultures underpins much of her writing, including her latest, The Sicilian Wife, a mystery featuring two women on opposite sides of the law. 

Caterina Edwards spoke to Shelagh Rogers from Edmonton.

Why mysteries are a great way to look at a society

I really enjoy the mystery form, and I was also inspired by Leonardo Sciascia, an Italian writer who used the mystery form in writing about Sicily to take a serious look at the society. I think it is a genre that works very well in that questioning of a society and giving us an inside look.

The continuing appeal of fictionalizing the Mafia

For me, it was a way of exploring an evil community. I thought, what would happen if you were born into an evil family? How do you deal with that? Fulvia, one of my main characters, is born into a Mafia family, she's a Mafia princess, and I wanted to explore what the effects of that would be. Because it's a society that has a certain tradition and a certain set of inflexible rules, which I think people find fascinating — as well as the whole concept of loyalty and what happens if you stray from that. It's actually a very feudal system, so if anything it's a remnant of a past, even if it traffics in very modern problems.

Caterina Edwards' comments have been edited and condensed.