Those who have read Fusilli's Terry Orr books, are familiar with how he is able to create deep, compelling characters -- setting his mystery books apart from your average "pulp" stories. And with Narrows Gate's story covering such a long span of time, Fusilli is really at the top of his game in creating a credible and nuanced cast in this (audio)book.
The story certainly recalls some of the great, epic films set in New York City like "The Godfather" and Sergio Leone's fantastic "Once Upon a Time in America" (the original cut, not the American release). While Joey Pants's narrative can sometimes come off as "campy", especially for those that have watched him throughout his career, Joe Barrett keeps the story focused on the real drama including coming of age within the challenging moral fabric of mob-controlled Hoboken.
As a native New Yorker and an Italian-American, I generally approach novels like Narrows Gate very cautiously. While the drama inherent the Mafia construct attracts its share of writers, few can convincingly pull off the conflict without straying into your typical gangster trope. Fusilli, perhaps because he understands it personally, manages that delicate balance perfectly -- there's certainly enough Mafia action to keep you engaged, but it never turns into an over-the-top goombah fest.
I recommend the book for people looking for a compelling, well-written, character-driven crime epic.
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