I love this series about a Jewish mobster, told from his early beginnings on arrival in New York from Europe in the early 1900’s and continuing to tell his story through each decade thereafter.
And this, the fourth in the series is the best so far (in my very humble opinion)! Alex walks out of Sing Sing after doing a stint for tax evasion (as every good mafioso should do at some stage of his career). He has been deserted by his ‘friends’ in the crime syndicate that he was instrumental in building for so many years. In fact, nobody’s even waiting for him when he walks out of prison, so he take a bus back to New York (wry humour – I loved it!)
Alex decides it would be better not to stay in his old home ground and sets his sites on Los Angeles where he slowly regains his confidence and a semblance of a way of life. But once a mobster, always a mobster, and for Alex it’s just about impossible to stay away from those who are his crime family. It’s not long before he re-establishes ties with his old friends and after proving that he hasn’t lost his touch when it comes to carrying out those jobs that they need taking care of, he’s back in the fold.
Alex makes his way to Vegas and sets up shop with Benny (Bugsy) Segal, after making a request from Meyer Lansky. And so begins a long-term partnership and the establishment of the roots of the casino city that exists today. With his usual creativity, Borstinski has woven together fact and fiction, real-life characters, together with those imagined, to produce a piece of riveting storytelling. I found the historical aspects of the development of Vegas, and the ‘bookie’ system really interesting, as much of what is told here is actually based on the actual birth of what is now the glittering ‘Sunset Strip’ as we know it today. There’s a touch of glamour that goes along with that underlying danger and sleaze, and a stark reminder that you get by in life (especially in this business) based on who you know, and not necessarily on what you know!
In this fourth part of the tale, I felt that Alex really came of age. He’s become more mature; more measured. He shows what he’s learned from all the years of experience that have come before him, and he displays the knowledge and insight that he’s gained from others. He seems calmer, and even though he still gets angry (with rightful cause), he now knows how to contain that anger and how to direct it appropriately. He’s clearly come to understand that things don’t need to be rushed.
I’ve said it before (I think I say it in every Alex Cohen review – I don’t care) and I’ll say it again … Alex Cohen is a thug; he’s a crook; he’s a gangster and he’s a criminal … but he’s so, so likeable, and I like him a great deal! I can’t wait to see what’s next for him.
Thank you once again to Damp Pebbles Blog Tours for continuing to include me in the Alex Cohen saga. Take a look at what other bloggers are saying about Casino Chiseler …
Leopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.
There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often. He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/borstinski @borstinski