My brother Carlo is an American Studies professor at Boston College. In his case, that means he gets to prowl around out in America reporting and writing brilliant books and articles about boxing, literature, neighborhoods, television shows, and all manner of music and musicians. His latest piece in this Sunday’s Washington Post Magazine (edited by the great David Rowell, a formidable author himself) is an insightful and amusing portrait of Midland, a Texas country band that, as far as I can tell, is both retro and nouveau. I don’t have Carlo’s knowledge of or enthusiasm for country music, but I like this band! They remind me of both the Eagles and the Atlanta Rhythm Section. And they come off as hard-working, down-to-earth, high-powered artists with a badass style. Watch out for Midland and that Rotella kid. They are going places.

Mystery Readers Journal had an excellent idea: an edition dedicated to crime fiction set in Italy. From Sciascia to Camilleri to Donna Leon, rich and fertile terrain! And they graciously invited me to contribute a piece about Rip Crew, my latest novel, which takes place partly in the region around Naples and on the island of Lampedusa. It was great fun writing about arancini, ferry boats, my Italian crime-fighter friends, and the experience of my father’s Sicilian immigrant family as well as African migrants in Italy and the other odysseys I’ve chronicled in journalism and fiction. The edition is available online and the old-fashioned way too. Tante grazie, Mystery Readers Journal. Cari saluti and a very happy Fourth of July from an author whose family lived the American Dream…