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Miami authors finish late friend's manuscript

Back in 2007, Miami resident Anthony Gagliano finally saw his dream come true — he became a published crime author whose debut, "Straits of Fortune" (HarperCollins), was garnering many positive reviews. The novel about former NYPD cop Jack Vaughn who found a second career as a personal trainer in Miami was based on his masters thesis at Florida International University.

Gagliano was working on his second novel, "The Emperor's Club," when he suffered a stroke and died at age 53. His death rallied his former FIU professors, who also were his friends, to do the ultimate tribute: finish his novel for him. Les Standiford, director of the FIU creative writing program, and Dan Wakefield, who was a writer in residence at FIU for 15 years, began to work on Gagliano's manuscript.

"Tony was one of my all-time best students, and most loyal friend, so it's great to have had a small part in bringing his second novel to print," Wakefield said. "Both Les and I have such respect for Tony as a writer, and admiration of his work, that this is a real triumph. It is also a gift to readers, for Tony was unmatched in his tough, ironic, private-eye dialogue, and his ability to render the underside of South Florida with fascination and flair."

The two authors, both of whom have a number of fiction and nonfiction titles to their credit, spent a couple of years working on the book.

After hearing about the project, their FIU colleague and fellow author John Dufresne agreed to edit the finished book. Dufresne also found a publisher, the small but growing MidTown Publishing.

"The Emperor's Club" will be unveiled during a reading/celebration with Standiford and Dufresene at 8 p.m. Dec. 5 at Books & Books, 265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables, 305-444-9044.

Publisher Michael Zealy also will be on hand. Lana Callen, Gagliano's widow, has arranged to donate the proceeds to the FIU Creative Writing Program in her late husband's name.

"The event will give us a chance to celebrate Tony's too short life and career, talk about how we got the book into shape. And we will also have the pleasure of talking about why we think Tony's work is so darn good," said Standiford.

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