The Good Mothers review – women challenge the mafia

A gripping account by Alex Perry of the efforts of three women to escape the clutches of Calabrian organised crime families

When Alessandra Cerreti joined the anti-mafia prosecutor’s office in the city of Reggio Calabria in 2010, she was convinced women were the key to breaking open the secret world of Italy’s most powerful mafia. Women, she believed, were more than victims of the oppressive crime system. If they could be persuaded to talk, their knowledge could be devastating. There were precedents, though not many – the ’Ndrangheta, the Calabrian mafia, is based on family groups ruled with a combination of loyalty and fear and, as its wealth and power have grown, it has proved extremely difficult to penetrate.

Cerreti is tough, cool and striking, a brilliant investigator who came to Calabria after working on terrorism cases. Her husband is a carabiniere, and they live under armed guard – they have ...