Smoke Kindle Edition
|Length: 190 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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Top customer reviews
Bruce Rubenstein, award winning Twin Cities writer, describes his book SMOKE as historical fiction that contains references to real life criminals who actually did things much as he has portrayed them. Some would be flattered by what he writes, he says, and others would be furious. But they are all dead now so they “can’t sue.”
His St. Paul private eye, Martin McDonough, runs in the city’s milieu of crooks, corrupt cops, and devious politicians of that era, talking the talk and walking the walk. He is hired by a pretty widow who wants the mastermind of her husband’s murder brought to justice. The man she suspects hired the actual killer is well liked while feared as someone who doesn’t take to people crossing him. So, although under some suspicion, he floats around a free man.
McDonough is well connected with the brass of the St. Paul police department and is privy to inside information and gossip. He is also brash and fearless, with the reputation of solving crimes. He agrees to look into the widow’s suspicions and, along the way, gets involved in other situations that eventually lead to the book’s conclusion, which you’ll have to read yourself.
What’s important to know is that Rubenstein is an engaging writer with the chops to put this book together. It’s filled with historical references to the bad people previously mentioned, the vernacular of the 1930s gritty side of society, and subtle humor that makes the book highly enjoyable. There are references of encounters with notorious St. Paul police chiefs John O’Connor and Tommy Brown. McDonough frequents the infamous bars of the area, such as The Green Lantern, and real people known for their shady existence drift in and out of his story.
McDonough even escorts a police rescue squad that attempts to warn John Dillinger of an impending FBI “hit squad’ raid that intends to kill him. If that were allowed to happen, St. Paul’s reputation as a safe haven for gangsters would be threatened. Rubenstein’s description of this actual event is wonderfully written and contains enough confusion, whizzing bullets, and crashing cars to create motion pictures in the reader’s mind. In the end, John Dillinger and his squeeze, Billie Frechette, escape and St. Paul’s lucrative Layover policy of a safe haven remains intact.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The environment is well documented, the dialogue is timely and real, and the storyline, although somewhat dated, is well constructed. Some rambling in the theme and confusion in the characterizations keeps it from getting 5 stars.
Schuyler T Wallace
Author of TIN LIZARD TALES
My dad, a card and pool sharp, used to regale me with stories about St. Paul in the 30s -- he had met John Dillinger among other infamous gunsels -- and I was introduced to some of the Jewish gangsters and a few crooked politicians that came out of that era. Bits and pieces of history.
Bruce has put it all together in a fast-paced true-crime tale that my father would easily recognize, and he's done it with a writing style that is at once colloquial and mannered.
If you've never even been to St. Paul, no matter: this book is for anyone that appreciates a good yarn. And while you're at it, check out some of Bruce's other writings. You won't regret it.
Oaxaca, Mexico: An Expatriate Life
PI Martin McDonough is written with some similarities to Mike. This is a fast read and I liked it very much. The story is well written, except for one small thing. There was one bad word (sorry but Amazon checkers will not let me say the word) that is used and this word was not used in this decade. Other than that, the story is written appropriate to 1934. The characters are believable and well written too.
It is 1934, and the depression is at its worst. Many have no jobs and go hungry unless they find other avenues to support themselves. Sometimes this means illegal things.
For Martin McDonough though, things are looking better than ever. Lots of unsolved murders, lots of gangsters, lots of corruption. Usually solving crimes is easy for Martin. All he has to do is ask his copper friends to give him the inside scoop. This changes when a newspaperman is killed by a gang hit. His young wife sees Martin to ask him to find out why. Martin is so enthralled with the pretty widow that he doesn't even set a price for his work. (This is something Hammer would do. )
This story makes for a good read. For those of you who are concerned, there are no sex scenes, and no blood and guts. I recommend this book very much.
Characters are well-sketched --
"sloping forehead, big lumpy nose, about five and a half feet tall,
maybe six feet across the shoulders. He looked like something it
took generations of inbreeding to produce...." (p 80)
-- with thought-provoking asides sprinkled around for extra spice:
"Funny term, `human nature.' It comes up all the time, and rarely
to describe anything edifying. Instead it's employed to excuse
everything from foolishness to pure evil.
"Thank God for human nature. I'd be out of work without it" (p 69).
"Thus began my descent into the pit of celebrity" (p 76). [Great line and well placed.]
The story starts a little rough and sometimes feels as though Rubenstein's pushing too hard. Also, the book could have used a good copyedit, but that's Calumet's problem not Rubenstein's.
Bottom line: Good start, Bruce. Am looking forward to reading McDonough's next case.
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