cover image Brownsville


Neil Kleid, . . NBM, $18.95 (205pp) ISBN 978-1-56163-458-3

A beautifully moody evocation of a bygone Brooklyn inhabited by Jewish gangsters, Brownsville follows the career of some of the biggest names in the hoodlum business. The authors trace the way in which a young boy might be seduced by the wrong side through relating the story of Allie Tannenbaum, who first meets the wiseguys on the grounds of his own father's place in the Catskills. Later, the action moves to the Lower East Side, where Allie is an older man, well ensconced in the shadow world of the men who make up Murder Inc.: Louis Lepke Buchalter, Abe Reles, the Shapiro brothers, Dutch Schultz—all wind through this tale of 1930s corruption. Tires are slashed, guns are hidden in toilet tanks, rapes and murders and retaliatory hits are carried out. One difficulty is that there are few sympathetic characters, other than Allie's somewhat bewildered father, who doesn't love his son's choice of career. At times, the story's convolutions can be tough to follow; along with the various shifting loyalties, Allen's lush black ink, while atmospheric, can make different characters look confusingly similar. Nonetheless, the work is a fine addition to the archive of Brooklyn's once outlaw world. (Apr.)