Set during the Great Depression and based in part on real characters and a series of historical events, Toughs follows the story of Loretto Jones as he finds his life intertwined with the fate of Vince Coll, a 23-year-old Irish gangster who for a brief moment rose to the level of a national celebrity during his war with Dutch Schultz, Owen Madden, and Lucky Luciano.
Tagged "Mad Dog Coll" after killing five-year-old Michael Vengelli in a botched assassination attempt, Coll was the subject of a shoot-to-kill order issued by New York City Police Commissioner Edward P. Mulrooney, a $50,000 bounty offered by Dutch Shultz and Owen Madden, and $30,000 in reward money from by the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association and the city's newspapers. Loretto and Vince are bound to each other by years spent in an orphanage and on the streets, but in the summer of 1931, with Loretto in love with newly-divorced Gina Baronti, and Vince in thrall to the beautiful Lottie Kriesberger, their world of tough guys in tough times is hurtling toward disaster, and Loretto finds himself faced with impossible choices.
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Mad Dog, because he was psycho
After his success with The Family Corleone, which became a New York Times Bestseller in 2012, Author Ed Falco revisits New York City in a new Crime Drama set in the early 1930s. Combining real life events from that period and brilliantly written Fiction, Toughs will captivate your interest from the first chapter and it will never let go.
The story follows Loretto Jones, an orphan teenager that grew up in the lesser neighborhoods of New York City at the turn of the Century. He is trying to be a good person, because the nuns at the orphanage told him to be that way. But, living surrounded by young gangsters, he will be pulled into a series of events that will put his life in danger and make him want to settle down, to have a family and to stop anything related to the bootleggers and other criminals.
The story opens with Loretto being witness to an assassination attempt by Vincent Coll, an Irish hitman, who was trying to kill a rival gangster. Vincent fails and all hell brakes loose when children and bystanders fall hurt, riddled with bullets from the assassin’s gun. The Police and the Mayer are calling Coll a ”Mad dog” and a manhunt begins. After this terrifying event, Loretto will run and hide, because both Vincent and his target think that he will talk to the Coppers.
If you’ve read my previous reviews, you already know that I hate spoilers and that I’ll do everything I can to avoid them. The rest of the story will follow Loretto, Vincent and some really impressive Organized Crime figures, real and imagined, from 1931 as they fight for supremacy in New York.
Ed Falco is a great writer, he tells a gripping and compelling story, combining alike real life and fictive characters, describing with excellent vividness a New York City torn apart by gang wars, betrayal, corruption, drama, sex and murder. He even makes you care about someone you know you shouldn’t, and that’s something that not too many authors are able to do these days. The book is not very fast paced, Mr. Falco takes his time introducing us to all the characters, making us to care or to hate them, raising the stakes, plotting, scheming and at some point, everything comes beautifully together in a very enjoyable and entertaining crime story of the Film Noire’s like 1930’s.
I researched the events portrayed in this book, after I finished listening to the audio version, and I found out that this Vincent and others like him were real people in the 30’s, but not Loreddo or some of his closer friends. It was a great and very interesting narrative experience for me, because I love that Era and I hope that Ed Falco is writing another book as I’m approaching the end of this review.
The audiobook version of Toughs is performed by the actor Paul Schulze and he does an excellent job with it. You may know Paul from different TV Shows, but I enjoyed his role as Eddie Walzer in Nurse Jackie, where he plays alongside the awesome Edie Falco (Carmela Soprano from The Sopranos). As far as I know, this is his first audiobook performance and I can say without a doubt that I hope to be able to listen to him again as soon as possible. He has a calm and warm voice, he gives life to all the characters and nails the Irish and Italian accents helping the listener to immerse himself into the story and to have a great experience.
If you like Crime Fiction books set in the time of the Great Depression, full with reach characters, intriguing stories and on the edge of your seat gun fights, Toughs is a book that you should definitely try!
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