This one is a tough book to pull off. There’s already tons of bs associated with the legend of Al Capone that it’s tough to discern the truth. Fortunately, Loren Estleman, a writer who I’ve been meaning to read for a very long time, gets it well.
Estleman’s research is incredible. I read Max Alan Collins’ Scarface and the Untouchable before this so a lot of it was fresh in my head. I figured he (Estleman) might fudge the facts in order to tell a more compelling story. But he doesn’t have to do so. In using an undercover FBI agent in the guise of a priest, he allows his characters to feel real and thus the “confessions” aspect to come off as authentic. Capone is neither a monster or misunderstood genius here, more of a washed up non-able bodied lunk who is kind of hanging on for his friends and family, many of whom are loyal to him but are afraid of what one misstep might do to their respective livelihoods.
As a minister, I really appreciated how well Estleman handles religion here. Yes, there’s the familiar and tired Catholic guilt but I’ve had many awkward exchanges with people and parishioners in my time. They feel genuine; an added depth to the story.
There is a twist coming that I saw and wasn’t a fan of. I also felt the ending could have been stronger. But overall, this is a great take on Capone written by a competent scribe.