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The Mystery Writers of America nominated this for "Best Novel" earlier this year. And the NYT put it on its list of The Best Mystery Novels of 2022. And they were not wrong; Gangland is a real page-turner.

The author, Chuck Hogan, blurs the line between fact and fiction by incorporating real-life mobsters into his narrative. One is Sam Giancana, who was onetime boss of the Chicago Outfit, murdered in 1975 by an unknown assailant. Hogan pins (heh) the murder on Nicholas "Nicky Pins" Passero, acting on the orders of another real-life mobster Tony "Joe Batters" Accardo.

Nicky is the book's main character. His role as Accardo's henchman is secret. He owns a bowling alley (hence his mob nickname). He's also a part-time closeted homosexual, which, in the 1970s, was not considered to be a diversity plus. His secret is discovered by a sleazy FBI agent, who tries to turn him into an informant. He's managing his complex life OK, until a small gang of thieves led by a master technician knock over a jewelry store without getting Outfit permission, and (worse) not giving the Outfit a cut of the proceeds. This sets off a major conflict between the thieves and Accardo, with Nicky in the middle. Many corpses are produced, and Nicky's in a very dangerous position, caught between Accardo's and the FBI's increasing demands. He's justifiably paranoid.

This is (I'm kind of ashamed to admit) the first book I've read by Chuck Hogan. Although I really liked The Town, a Boston-set movie based on his 2004 novel Prince of Thieves. And he's also well-known in an entirely different genre, vampire fiction. Who knew?

Last Modified 2024-01-12 6:02 AM EDT