It is 1942 and the island of Malta is under siege by the dominant German air force. Out of the smoke and magnesium glare of bomb blast steps Rocco Raven, native of Brooklyn, New York, apprentice radioman and expert secondhand car dealer. His only contact is an American secret serviceman, Fingerley, whose rank upgrades with their every meeting and whose purpose is known to no-one but himself. Far from finding a role for Rocco, Fingerley leaves him to face the chaos alone. On only his second day there, his billet, on the top floor of a brothel, is blown to pieces. Without contacts or belongings, Rocco is left to wander the devastated streets of Valetta in a bewildered daze until he sees an apparition, a beautiful, ethereal woman. She is Melita, the Jukebox Queen of Malta, who spends her time delivering the jukeboxes wrought by her cousin from old automobile and gramophone parts to the bars and restaurants which must accommodate the beleagured civilian and military populations. It is the beginning of an extraordinary relationship that is at once passionate and guarded, which flourishes as the island's fortunes decline. Under the threat of starvation and in a world populated by
Nicholas Rinaldi teaches at Fairfield University, in Connecticut, where he lives with his wife, Jackie. His work includes two novels, Bridge Fall Down and The Jukebox Queen of Malta, and three collections of poetry- The Resurrection of the Snails, The Luftwaffe in Chaos and We Have Lost Our Fathers.