Gus Pelagatti is a practicing trial lawyer with over 47 years of experience trying civil and criminal cases including homicide. He’s a member of the Million Dollar Advocate Forum, limited to attorneys who have been recognized as achieving a standard of excellence as a trial expert. He has spent years researching the true story of the 1938 insurance scam murders, interviewing judges, lawyers, police and neighbors involved in the trials.
Gus was born and raised within blocks of the main conspirator’s tailor shop and the homes of many of the wives convicted of murdering their husbands.
His latest book is The Wicked Wives.
You can visit Gus’ website at www.guspelagatti.com.
To get your paperback copy of THE WICKED WIVES by Gus Pelagatti: http://www.amazon.com/Wicked-Wives-novel-based-story/dp/1936780631/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1315865476&sr=1-1
To purchase an e-copy of THE WICKED WIVES for your Kindle for $2.99: http://www.amazon.com/The-Wicked-Wives-novel-ebook/dp/B005784LB4/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1315865476&sr=1-1
To purchase an e-copy of THE WICKED WIVES for your Nook for $3.99: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wicked-wives-gus-pelagatti/1013204282?ean=2940013218611
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“The Wicked Wives” is based on the true story of the 1938 Philadelphia poison scandals. Seventeen wives and a like number of conspirators were arrested for poisoning husbands to death for insurance money.
A gang of men would seduce lonely, disenchanted wives, persuade them to insure their husbands and taught them how to poison their husbands without alerting the physicians, undertakers and police.
“The Wicked Wives” is a story made for Hollywood, combining murder, corruption, treachery, love and lust during the economic depression.
Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?
Cast of Characters in “The Wicked Wives”
Lillian Stoner: The beautiful, blonde, snobbish society wife abandons her bankrupt husband Reggie to exchange sex for money with Bill Evans, her rich political uncle. She depends upon her lover Giorgio to feed her opium habit, and she conspires with him to murder her husband for insurance money.
Eva Russo: The risqué redheaded nymph loves sex with men, the night life and gambling. In fact her unpaid gambling debts lead to punishment by the mafia. She buries two husbands for insurance money. But the one thing she desperately desires she can’t have…Giorgio.
Joanna Napoli: The bosomy gift shop owner is madly in love with Giorgio and is willing to do the unthinkable to marry him … join Giorgio in a conspiracy to murder her drunken husband.
Rose Grady: Another of Giorgio’s playmates who conspires with him to bury three husbands and leaves the fourth to die at home before fleeing the city to avoid arrest. Her past earns her the name “Kiss of Death Widow.” She always wears mourning black and a veil.
Sadie Lamb: She owns a boarding house with her husband and rents rooms to three male borders. Sadie loves to play musical beds with her borders for a fee. Eventually all three borders and her husband have to be treated on the same day by a physician for a venereal disease. Giorgio persuades the borders to join a conspiracy to murder Sadie’s husband for insurance money.
The Bad Guys
Giorgio DiSipio: He is a mastermind conspirator — a stunning lothario and local tailor who preys on lonely, disenchanted and unfaithful wives by convincing them to kill their spouses for insurance money. He is known to sexually service at least four women on the couch in the rear of his tailor shop in one day.
Boris “Rabbi” Feldman: A colorful flimflam man and Giorgio’s number one co-conspirator. He introduces many lonely wives to Giorgio and helps to seduce them. He knows where most of Giorgio’s skeletons are buried.
Bruno Bianchi a/k/a “Giant”: The Giant is a tall man with gray hair and a mustache who sits in the passenger seat of a Buick driven by a mysterious lady in black dressed as though in mourning. She wears a thick black veil over her face to hide her identity. Giant systematically assassinates the poison conspiracy witnesses while the lady in black drives the get-away car.
Deputy Mayor Bill Evans: He is the corrupt head of the Philadelphia Republican Party who is hell bent on protecting his niece Lillian Stoner from murder charges. He hates first Assistant Tom Rossi who won’t help him to protect his niece Lillian from murder charges.
The Good Guys and Gals
Tom Rossi: He is the First Assistant D.A. assigned the job of arresting and prosecuting all conspirators including wives in the poison murders. He also wants to be elected D.A. but incurs the wrath of Deputy Mayor Evans when Rossi refuses to protect Evans’ niece Lily from murder charges. Evans sets political machinery in motion to have Rossi disbarred as a lawyer.
Hope Daniels: She and Tom Rossi are in love and want to marry. But Hope is part Negro, which Evans uses to incite bigoted Philadelphia voters against Rossi’s quest to be elected D.A. Evans has Hope fired from her city job as a nurse for lying about her ethnic heritage on her job application. This action creates a dangerous crisis in her relationship with Tom.
Mike Fine, Chief of CountyDetectives: Mike is a lean and mean fifty-five year old Jewish detective who had to grow up tolerating anti-Semitism. He is willing to protect the life of his best friend Tom Rossi at all times.
Lynn Sullivan: She is Tom Rossi’s stenographer who is hopelessly in love with her boss although he does not realize the depth of her affections for him. But she never gives up trying to win the man she adores.
District Attorney Pat Connors: Pat is about to retire and lends advice to his heir apparent Tom Rossi.
Bertha Brooks: Bertha is another colorful character who is Lillian’s neighbor and an eyewitness to critical facts involving murder.
Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
For the most part, the characters are based on actual people who participated in the 1938 Philadelphia poison scandals.
Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?
This novel was based on the true story 1938 Philadelphia poison scandals. So my research uncovered the various plots for me.
Q: Can you tell us why you chose to set your story in South Philadelphia?
My parents owned a tiny row-house in South Philadelphia located within two blocks from the main conspirator’s tailor shop. The shop was the scene where many conspiracies were plotted and where many wives were seduced.
Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?
Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?
One of the wives, Eva, did not promptly pay a gambling debt to her
bookie, Nicky ‘Fits.” After forcing a loaded .38 pistol into her mouth, Eva
wet herself. Next, Nicky punched her in the nose and the orbit of her eye
causing Eva’s nose to bleed and her eye to become obviously red and
swollen. Now, Eva was planning her revenge… on Nicky “Fits.”
Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?
Eva unhooked her bra and gave him a wink. Michael wasted no time
in burying his face between her breasts. He feverishly licked at her nipples. “Bella putana,” he said. “Bella putana.”
She giggled. “Relax baby doll. This doesn’t have to be your last supper.”
Q: Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?
I do something other than writing for hours.
Q: What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?
Watch a movie based on a good book.
Q: Which already published book do you wish that you had written and why?
The Carpetbaggers, (1961) by Harold Robbins. Robbins was a pioneer in introducing literary sex to the fifties and sixties.
Q: What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors regarding getting their books out there?
Keep trying to get reviews. Never give up!
Thank you so much for this interview, Gus. We wish you much success!