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Wednesday 31 May 2017

‘Falling into the Mob’ By Steve Zousmer

Published by Permanent Press,
31 January 2017.
ISBN: 978-1-57962-436-1 (HB)

From the publisher:  At 59, facing a dull and lonely future, Phil Vail yearns for a way to put vigor and purpose into his remaining years.  Then he finds the Mafia.  He is riding a commuter train, enjoying a chat with the younger woman sitting next to him when they encounter three drunks threatening violence and rape. Phil is powerless and terrified but the woman is neither:  her father is the caporegime of New York’s Sforza crime family and a cell call brings her three mobster brothers who deal out brutal punishment.  Phil is appalled but fascinated.  In subsequent contacts with the woman he finds himself falling in love and his fall takes him deeper into the Mob.  Then comes the game changer:  a crazy-seeming offer to become a crime boss himself, an offer he cannot refuse.  Phil sees the dark comedy in his situation but tells the story earnestly in a first-person account describing his emotions, reflections and surprising leadership as well as adventures including a sensational brawl with a Mafia kingpin in a posh Manhattan restaurant, a near-death experience in a karate dojo, and a spectacular stunt to force the hand of the FBI.

This novel had me hooked from the first page, something that seldom happens, I must admit,  But the opening scene, which has our protagonist falling in love and falling into the mob in quick succession, is written in so engaging a fashion that it has the reader swiftly engaged in the tale.

Phil, divorced for 3 years and with a 26-year-old son, is 20 years older than Sylvia, the woman who entrances him immediately.  A former client, who also was his last-remaining client, decides he wants to run for the presidency of the US.  His description in this regard may sound familiar to many:  “He had no elected-office experience, no campaign experience, no voter constituency, and no political agenda.’  The author also speaks of a high-lever meeting which takes place in a venue whose guests include “a celebrity real estate mogul who pushed to the front eager for camera time,” a description which might also sound familiar.

Our protagonist muses that he “was finally getting the hang of gangster rock ‘n’ roll.”  The novel references writings and writers including John LeCarre and William Shakespeare, just an example of the erudition and simply wonderful writing found here.  A very fast and terrific read, the novel is highly recommended.
Reviewer: Gloria Feit

Steve Zousmer spent half his career as a journalist, mainly with ABC News, and the other half as a freelance speechwriter for the CEOs or presidents of about 30 major corporations. His ABC assignments included chief writer of Good Morning America and 20/20, senior producer of Nightline, and writer for Harry Reasoner and Peter Jennings. He also wrote documentaries for Discovery, Audubon, Smithsonian World, and National Geographic. He is a graduate of Stanford and Columbia Universities and served as a United States Navy officer in Vietnam. He has written six books: two novels, three books on writing, and a Smithsonian book on evolution in the Galapagos.

Ted and Gloria Feit live in Long Beach, NY, a few miles outside New York City.  For 26 years, Gloria was the manager of a medium-sized litigation firm in lower Manhattan. Her husband, Ted, is an attorney and former stock analyst, publicist and writer/editor for, over the years, several daily, weekly and monthly publications.  Having always been avid mystery readers, and since they're now retired, they're able to indulge that passion.  Their reviews appear online as well as in three print publications in the UK and US.  On a more personal note: both having been widowed, Gloria and Ted have five children and nine grandchildren between them.

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