cover image Cut Numbers

Cut Numbers

Nick Tosches. Harmony, $17.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-517-56870-5

Making his fiction debut, Tosches, a rock journalist (Hellfire), strikes gold with a brutal, corrosively funny portrait of New York's penny-ante hoods and professional lowlifes. Louie Brunellesches, a thuggish loan shark who can't even make a dishonest living, spends his days shaking down his sparse clientele, brooding about his estranged girlfriend Donna and drunkenly dreaming of just one big payoff. Out in Newark, his ancient Uncle Giovanni, a one-time big shot in Harlem's numbers game, plots a final blow against a crafty old racketeer known as Il Capraio. Meanwhile, Joe Brusher, a human death machine, is rapidly cutting a gory swath through the local underworld. Tosches's prose crackles with violence, degradation and reams of cheerful obscenity, but he has a sociologist's eye for the squalid territory of his characters, an unerring ear for their banter and invective, and affection for their mutated traditions and warped loyalties. (July)