cover image Gangster Nation

Gangster Nation

Tod Goldberg. Counterpoint, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-1-61902-723-7

Offbeat doesn’t begin to describe Goldberg’s impressive sequel to 2014’s Gangsterland. Mafia leader Sal Cupertine escaped arrest by hiding in the back of a refrigerated meat truck after murdering three undercover FBI agents and an informant in Chicago. Now, he’s successfully reinvented himself as Rabbi David Cohen in Las Vegas, where he’s found that not being Jewish “had ceased, over time, to be a problem.” He has successfully faked his way into the job, officiating over life cycle events and dispensing nuggets of wisdom. Goldberg’s sections on Cupertine/Cohen’s relationship with his wealthy flock, which includes a man who hires Donny Osmond to sign autographs at his daughter’s wedding, provide a satirical look at the superficial aspects of affluent American life. The threat that the gangster’s past will catch up with him comes in the form of FBI agent Matthew Drew, who’s bent on avenging his late colleagues. Fans of clever mixes of dark humor and violent crime by authors such as Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiaasen will be pleased. Author tour. Agent: Jennie Dunham, Dunham Literary. (Sept.)