Central Station

A Ray DeLuca Novel

Fiction - Crime
464 Pages
Reviewed on 10/10/2022
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Joseph Cariffe is a writer and radio broadcasting executive. He grew up in the shadow of La Cosa Nostra in New York, and his early years were heavily influenced by his Italian American heritage and organized crime. He served in the U.S. military as a military police officer and later held positions with the FBI and San Francisco Police Department. He divides his time between San Francisco and the pine forests of North Carolina, where he resides with his family.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite

From the Navy SEALS to the San Francisco Police Department to collecting Academy Award ballots, Ray DeLuca experiences a lot in Central Station: A Ray DeLuca Novel by Joseph Cariffe. We meet Ray after his SEAL days are behind him and he is an officer on probation with SFPD working out of Central Station. Ray's father is serving time in prison on the East Coast for his role in the Sicilian mafia's chain of command, a connection Ray has trouble shaking off. The long fingers of Cosa Nostra stretch to San Francisco and they clash with the Chinese gang of San Francisco, the Ghost Boys. In a complicated twist, a Ghost Boy is killed and the blame is pushed onto Ray, costing him his job and potentially his life when he becomes a hit target.

Community is a solid theme in Central Station by Joseph Cariffe, and Ray DeLuca's unbreakable love of his heritage and his father play a central role in this aptly named novel. As a reader, I was asked to contemplate the impossibility of completely removing oneself from a barrel with a number of bad apples when everything you are as a person springs from mostly the good ones. Ray has an honest and satirical view of his place in the world that makes him easy to like and connect with. He's imperfect and even as an attractive, muscled alpha male with a badge who can cook, he still gets ghosted by beautiful women. The plot has a network of subplots that take readers from the East and West coasts and onto Europe without slowing down the stride, and the writing puts it among one of the best cop reads I've torn through this year.

Alma Boucher

Ray DeLuca was a Navy Seal but got tired of the deployments. He applied to the San Francisco Police Department and became a Proby at Central Station. Ray was partnered with Officer Hank Lau. Ray and Hank got a call to investigate a missing person. Gina Vaccaro explained to Ray and Hank that her brother, Carmine Vaccaro, had been missing since Saturday. Carmine is an international celebrity and the star of Mangia with Carmine. Vincent Catalano had invited Carmine for a trip on his yacht, wanting to propose a partnership with him. Carmine’s restaurant was a few blocks from Vincent's but had not yet earned a Michelin rating. Vincent had earned Michelin stars, but Carmine is a well-known celebrity. Carmine was not interested in Vincent’s offer and things turn bad for him in Central Station by Joseph Cariffe.

Central Station by Joseph Cariffe is suspenseful and fast-paced with a thrilling plot. It never felt rushed, and each chapter was a run-up to the next chapter. The suspense makes this story very powerful so I never knew what to expect next. It kept me on edge, and I could not turn the pages fast enough. The events unfolded naturally, and there was never a dull moment. There were so many twists and turns that I never anticipated. The story was unpredictable and there was always a surprise turn waiting for me. The characters were fully developed, each with their unique character traits. Each character had an intriguing backstory. I learned about each one on a deeper level and could relate to them. This novel is well written and managed to exceed my expectations. It was nothing at all like I expected. The ending was a surprise.

Jamie Michele

Central Station: A Ray DeLuca Novel by Joseph Cariffe is a contemporary suspense thriller that revolves around the series' titular character, Ray DeLuca, a former Navy SEAL turned San Francisco police officer who also happens to be the son of a notorious Sicilian caporegime. Ray is only 39 but he has the soul of an eighty-year-old man, winding down from a long day with a cigar and Frank Sinatra music. His probation beat is Central Station, the hub of San Francisco tourism and the scene of a rise in gang violence between the Sicilian and Chinese mafias. His integrity is questioned on many occasions and accusations have flown, but he's a good boy who calls his mother and seems to always come out on top. Unfortunately, Ray's SF stint comes to an abrupt halt when a hit from the Chinese Gang lands square on his 'frunti'. Worse still, his dating habits make lying low near impossible and raise the stakes both personally and professionally.

As a San Francisco girl born and raised, I was drawn to Central Station by Joseph Cariffe almost immediately. I've long left the city by the Bay but Cariffe brought me straight back with picturesque scenes alongside the gritty terrain of the not-so-pretty realities non-tourists understand thoroughly. Ray is a wonderful character who felt fully developed, so much so that I could almost hear a real voice. His age is a little suspect and there were times I questioned the authenticity of his age or the fact that his father could keep his head attached to his neck in prison with a son who wore blue, but the storytelling is good enough to suspend disbelief through these patches. I really loved the humor injected into the novel and chuckled when our hero is being interrogated by a San Leandro detective. San Leandro! It's like Thor being dressed down by Pee-wee Herman. The intensity of Ray's interactions, the tension of knowing that Ray and the people he cares about are in danger, and a sojourn in So Cal, add to a full plot, and there are twists and genuine losses. Overall, this is an excellent story and an easy read. Recommended.