A Bloody Business

Hard Case Crime/Titan. Apr. 2019. 640p. illus. by Drew Struzan. ISBN 9781785657702. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781785657719. M
[DEBUT] For her first novel, Struzan sat down with an aging Vincent Alo, famed member of the American mafia during its formative years, and interviewed him extensively about how the 1920s street gangs he ran with rose from petty crime to lords of the international criminal underworld, responsible for stealing millions of dollars and thousands of lives. Alo recounts his dealings with legendary figures such as Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky, and even Al Capone, all framed as brief vignettes from the memory of a dying mobster, interspersed with the author's movie poster illustrator husband Drew Struzan's stylish artwork. Alo's memories don't have much drama or insight attached to them, and the lack of an overarching narrative or historical context of this important and influential segment of American history lessens the work.
VERDICT Scholars and hard-core fans of American mafia history will sift through these stories to find the occasional gem; however, the work isn't compelling or satisfying enough for leisure readers who can find a better account of the period elsewhere.

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