""I was now well-prepared to be a career criminal... I just didn't have the stomach for any of it."" Carcaterra's latest crime novel is the tantalizing coming-of-age story of orphan Gabe, groomed by longtime New York City mob boss Angelo Vestieri to be his successor. The novel opens in the 1990s as Gabe, now middle-aged, keeps watch over Vestieri on his hospital deathbed. Slipping back in time to the Depression, the narrative tracks the rise of the famed mob boss from Italian immigrant to lord of Manhattan's underworld, when Gabe, 10, walks into Vestieri's bar after running out on his latest foster parents in 1964. Vestieri takes the impressionable boy under his wing and ushers him into the world of organized crime. Gabe runs numbers, collects debts and learns loyalty and the price of betrayal. Yet when the time comes for Gabe to take over the operation, he refuses, choosing a normal life despite his deep love for Vestieri. As he did in Sleepers and Apaches, Carcaterra shows dexterity in humanizing the denizens of the urban underbelly. Through a fine characterization of the enigmatic Vestieri, he provides a stirring perspective on the ways of mobsters and their history. Yet the book's central theme, the complex choice facing Gabe, is poorly developed, rarely penetrating the surface of his rejection of gang life. Carcaterra's portrayal focuses primarily on violence as the source of Gabe's revulsion, only touching on Gabe's understanding of how mobsters--through fear and corruption--influence society in much deeper ways. (Feb. 1) Forecast: From its bold title and catchy cover to the publisher's plans for major ad/promo, including a six-city author tour, this novel promises to perform. Its major push, though, will come down the road, from a four-hour ABC miniseries already in the works.
Reviewed on: 01/01/2001 Release date: 01/01/2001 Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 552 pages - 978-0-7838-9499-7
Mass Market Paperbound - 416 pages - 978-0-345-42529-4