Kind of wonder what could have been if Martin Scorsese had gotten his hands on this book before Nicholas Pileggi’s Wiseguy. This is Goodfellas, only if the murder montage was like half the movie.
I knew the name Roy DeMeo and that he was the head of perhaps the most murderous crew in Mafia history but I didn’t know exactly what is story was or how it operated. On a bit of a mob kick, I finally picked this one up. It’s a brutal tale and both writers tell it well, with all the requisite tragedy and angst that come with rise-and-fall organized crime narratives.
Wisely enough, both writers make Dominick the center of the story. It certainly helps that he’s the lone survivor but using his narrative to connect the through line between the different factions of the Gambino crime family made for a more interesting tale. The DeMeo folks are a part of it, a big part of it, but Capeci and Mustain are wise not to wallow in the sadism and bloodletting of the gangsters. They detail who died and how they died, giving a few discourses on the gross methods of body disposal. But beyond that, they don’t glorify people who got away with many, many (many!) murders for far too long.
What makes this one of the better mafia tales I’ve read is how the story encompasses both the beginning and near end of the Gambinos (it was published just before Gotti went away), their impact on Canarsie and all over Brooklyn, and even their unlikely alliance with the Westies in Hell’s Kitchen. Definitely a must read if you’re curious about mafia stories.