From Publishers Weekly
Breslin's literary ties to the mob go back to the days when he was churning out award-winning columns and bestselling novels (The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight), although he falls short of that level of excellence in this rambling, episodic novel about an aging Mafia boss whose nephew opts for a straight life. Fausti "The Fist" Dellacava is a gangster's gangster, an old school tough guy and a tyrant who uses his Mafia power to indulge a variety of whims, such as forbidding anyone on the street to refer to him by name: "Just look up quickly, as if searching a rock ceiling, when you mean The Fist." But his nephew and namesake is cut from a different cloth: when the younger Fausti decides that the threat of jail is a steep price to pay for a mobster's life of leisure, he tries his luck in the real world with decidedly mixed results. The bulk of the novel tracks the Fist's decline and demise in parallel with his nephew's efforts to establish himself beyond the Mob but the book's real raison d'tre is to give the audacious Breslin an opportunity to tell nonstop stories about the Mafia. He's at his best when he goes for laughs, particularly in the material involving Mafia trading cards, a mob priest named Father Phil and a vicious German shepherd named Malocchio, whose choice of victims inadvertently reflects the bigotry of his twisted owners. The lack of narrative structure makes this book a sticky read, but Breslin knows his subject and provides enough entertainment to justify wading through the slow spots. (May 23)Forecast: Ads in major national publications and the Sopranos-fueled Mafia mania should get the book some attention, but it will probably sell mostly to die-hard Breslin fans.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Readers who remember Breslin's first Mafia novel, The Gang That Couldn't Shoot
Straight (1969), will want to check out the New York columnist's fictional take on the Mob's last days. New Yorkers and Mafia mavens will know where Breslin is headed once they discover that his capo
--Fausti ("the Fist") Dellacava--spends much of the book dressed in pajamas and robe, gulping Thorazine. The Fist's clubhouse bears the label "Concerned Lutherans." It's in the basement of a Sullivan Street tenement in Greenwich Village. Young Fausti--the Fist's nephew--grows up down the street, watching the extended family his uncle rules. By the time the younger man is old enough to take on a straight job and marry his childhood sweetheart, the name he shares with his uncle gets in his way. He makes a few bucks as the anonymous source of the wise-guy profiles on Mob Stars trading cards, but it's obvious that an era is drawing to a close. The feds are getting too good at sending bosses off to jail, and the yuppies are taking over the neighborhood. No one would call Breslin a master plotter; his structure is anecdotal, and his tone is conversational. Perhaps his latest novel is best viewed as a comic requiem for yet another industry that can't keep up on the information superhighway. Mary CarrollCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved