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Casino Moon: A Mystery (Hard Case Crime Book 55) Kindle Edition
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About the Author
- File size : 8463 KB
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 338 pages
- Publication date : March 29, 2011
- Publisher : Open Road Media Mystery & Thriller (March 29, 2011)
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B004S8ESJ4
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,081,645 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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This is a story about Anthony Russo, born into the mob. His father, Michael, was killed early in Anthony's life and his father's closest friend, Vin, has been his surrogate father for much of his life in Atlantic City. Vin is the right hand man of the fat greedy local mob boss and he wants to see Anthony become a "made man." Although Anthony is not one hundred percent Sicilian, Vin is hoping that an exception can be made. Anthony doesn't want to be involved in the mob. He doesn't want to take orders, pick up envelopes, or knock off enemies. Vin is so convinced Anthony will succeed in the family business, he never stops talking him up even when the boss is convinced Anthony can't pull the trigger.
Of course, marrying the mob boss's niece didn't help any. Nor did borrowing $60,000 from the boss to provide for his family. Anthony can't pay him back and can't lift his family out of poverty by making a legitimate living. And, his wife is unhappy and bitter about it. She married him because she thought he was a good guy, not because she took a vow of poverty.
Anthony stumbles on a scheme by which he can pay back what he owes and get a grubstake up to start a respectable life. His friend has a brother who was a former middleweight champ a decade earlier, but is now a washed-up has-been who barely survives a sparring match in the local gym. Anthony is going to get Elijah on the headline bill at the local casino and reap twenty percent of the take. He thinks he is going to make an honest living and escape the criminal life.
Along the way, he meets a gal who works as a bikini wrestler in a bar, a step up from working the street corners for her. The boss warns him that if he steps out on the boss's niece, he'll find himself missing quite a few body parts.
Anthony's got the mob after him, his crazy wife after him, the police who think he offed a couple of local hoods, and, to make matters worse, he's in debt up to his eyeballs to the local loan shark to finance his boxer, the nearly-geriatric punching bag.
The story is well-written and, despite its 300-page length, can be read in an evening. Blauner has the street language down and you feel Anthony's frustration as he is trapped in a maze he can't get out of. It is not simply a bang-bang shoot-em-up story either, but a great character study of Anthony. Highly recommended crime fiction reading. Thumbs up.
The only disappointment was that the book ended. The characters were so well developed that I wanted to know more about what happened to them.
I couldn't put the book down!
This world has no beginning and no end: it lives on with its own life force. And yet I felt as though I had a brief glimpse into it between the pages, savoring every moment of exploding flesh, hard rights, and intense uppercuts. While I certainly understood the needs and desires of Anthony Russo and his ploy to go legitimate, or at least break himself away from his mob ties, most of my sympathies rested with Rosemary. She's as tough as any male character that haunts the pages of this novel, and without her, this book might have been a shell of itself. This proves an ongoing point that many good and great authors recognize: strong males need strong females. It's a codependent relationship, and this hard-case crime novel is better for it.
If you're into interesting reads where you get a glimpse of the street life, along with the high life, and you're not afraid to get your hands dirty, then you might want to check out this book. I know I'm glad I did.
Author of Falling Immortality: Casey Holden, Private Investigator
Top reviews from other countries
Swap bullet for sword and mob for throne and this really is the set-up of a fantasy doorstop. But that greatly oversimplifies the character of Anthony Russo. It rapidly becomes clear that Russo isn't disgusted with the mob life out of some moral principle. Russo crusades under one banner: Anthony Russo. He's crushed by debt to his kingpin uncle-in-law, his contracting business is rubbish, his wife and children are a stifling, unappreciative mess... Russo just wants out. He identifies with the "legitimate" casino tycoons of Atlantic City who saw their chances, took them, and now get to wear sharp suits and have great hair.
Russo's chance comes with Elijah Barton - an over-the-hill heavyweight boxer. Barton is savvy, angry ex-champion with the desperate need to prove himself one final time. Russo sees Barton's last chance as his own first step. Borrowing more money and throwing himself into the conniving world of boxing (and Russo thought the mob was dirty), he commits himself wholly to getting Barton the big fight. (And making himself rich out of it.)
Although Russo's ambition is strangely admirable, his methods are not. And the depths to which he'll sink in order to succeed soon have the reader questioning his motives as well. Is everyone around Russo really that awful? Is he really that trapped? Mr. Blauner further muddies the waters by populating the book with an admirable cast of dubious characters. Elijah Barton is perhaps the most straightforward, if only because he's distilled his entire life's ambition into a single physical, visceral goal. His success and failure rests wholly in his own (massive) hands - something that earns Russo's grudging admiration. But Russo's supposedly-stifling family - his step-father, Vin, and his uncle by marriage, Teddy - they're not purely malevolent figures in ill-fitting suits. They're murderous mobsters, sure, but they're also tough old men with their own health problems, financial struggles and growing insecurities. The author scatters the book with scenes that don't involve Russo at all, showing the reader that Vin and Teddy aren't the Machiavellian harpies that our protagonist thinks.
There's something of Hamlet in the family relationship, exacerbated when tales of Russo's (blood) father's murder suddenly resurface. Russo is utterly self-obsessed and blind to the consequences of his actions. Teddy and Vin are a generation away, starting to confess and regret their own immature actions, gradually learning to prioritise family over ambition. And Russo's poor wife, Carla, is the Ophelia of Atlantic City - adored by her uncle Teddy, abandoned by the relentlessly self-absorbed Russo.
I've always loved the Arthur Hailey school of fiction - stories that delvs into the microscopic detail of a organisation and then shows what happens when it collapses under extreme circumstances. Casino Moon has the feel of the final chapters of a Hailey novel - the dying days of the Atlantic City mob with a bit of boxing sprinkled in for verisimilitude. But Hailey's books were about isolated people, interconnected by an impersonal system. Mr. Blauner's is the reverse - positing that people are invariably, inescapably connected to one another, no matter where they are or what they do. It makes for a tough book, as the protagonist's primary goal - escape - is immediately recognisable as unachievable. Russo will never be free of his past and his family, and the more he struggles to escape them, the tighter his binds become.