Mulholland Books presents...THE IRON WILL OF SHOESHINE CATS It's New York, 1963, and college student Russell Newhouse has just made the acquaintance of notorious Jewish gangster Shoeshine Cats.
Cats wants a tiny favour. And - for his own reasons - he also wants to educate Russell in the world of crime, cops and the gritty reality of life on the edge.
Russell knows a lot about books, a bit about girls, and nothing at all about the mob.
That's about to change.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 320 pages
- Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division
- Publication Date: 12/04/2012
- Category: Crime & mystery
- ISBN: 9781444756104
Showing 1 - 1 of 1 reviews.
Review by clfisha
Evocative, hard boiled jewish gangster tale.<i>"To the members of the Bhotke Young Men’s Society, Shushan Cats was no criminal. The criminal statutes held no validity for those to whom the law meant only authorized starvation, torture, death. Everything done to the Jews of Europe … everything done to these had been absolutely legal, sanctioned by legitimate courts whose judges sat in black robes and vetted each and every decree as binding, fair, in the public interest, legal. Under these circumstances, that Shushan Cats was a Jewish gangster not only could not be held against him, but was a matter for celebration"</i>Evocative and entertaining, this is an amusing, gripping and unusual tale of the mob in 60s New York. Shoeshine cats, notorious Jewish mobster walks into the Bhotke young men’s society meeting and asks them take care of his mother funeral arrangements, outspoken Russell gets lumbered with the job and quickly gets sucked into the lifestyle as Cats takes him under his wing, grooming him for his own reasons.Forget Godfather, this is superbly its own thing, with its own view of the world. Brilliantly written, with real but outrageously fun characters and pitch perfect hard boiled flowing dialogue that ensures you keep reading. Our narrator, Russell, is very endearing even whilst being an idiot, an essential fact in a 1st person story. The sense of place is imperative of a novel that is twisting mobster tale to show a different view, its historical and culture richness, the backdrop of huge events give an edge and again a modern sympathy to events. It’s a very well balanced novel, although for someone familiar that richness may irk.The plot, well hmm for the 1st third its merely enjoyable and darkly amusing, intelligent story but trust me its swerves into a gripping, unputdownable tale and that probably spoils too much as it completely took me by surprise. All this deserves a brilliant rating but I felt a tiny bit unsatisfied by the end. Kestin manages to neatly tie up the wrong plot strands at the end. Still it doesn’t really impinge on the enjoyment and I recommend this story to history and crime fans, lovers of hard boiled fiction and those wanting a breath of fresh air. Stephen King has been recommending it so it has just been republished in the UK. No excuses now.