A goodfella recounts his life of crime, killing and evading the law in this pitch-perfect dark novel.
Even as children, Petey and his best friend, Ronnie, explore life as thieves. After they pull a clever heist complete with a lavish haul, the crime boss in their neighborhood makes them an offer they can’t refuse—they can continue to steal and cheat people but only if they work for him from now on. They pass their admission test by committing a surprisingly violent, seemingly passionless crime against a local shoemaker, driving nails through certain delicate body parts. From then on, Petey and Ronnie are part of the “family,” members of an exclusive, dangerous and cutthroat world of extortion, drugs and hits. Petey narrates his own story in perfect gangster vernacular, describing his crimes without compunction or remorse. He speaks of his work as sacred and necessary, while mocking law enforcement, embracing the complicated codes of chivalry, and defending the honor of his family and fellows with violence and bullets in the back. Only the beating of an innocent man gives Petey pause; the accidental obliteration of security guards is merely unfortunate timing on their part. He describes the rest of his work without flinching: dynamiting businesses for insurance money and shooting or hanging colleagues, rivals and enemies alike. Arturi’s debut reads like a long, comfortable conversation with the narrator as he looks back on a life well-lived, one he considers honorable, generous and family-focused. The author’s ability to mimic the genuine sentiment and chatter among members of organized crime is amply demonstrated. The prose flows smoothly from scene to scene as Petey recounts his story, but it barely pauses for dialogue, which at times makes it feel less like a novel and more like a diatribe. Petey’s comrades stand as shadows, one close friend blurring into the next with no distinguishing characteristics; even the women seem to be nondescript figures interested in shopping, home renovation and expensive gifts. Although the main character exhibits a shocking moral flexibility, the focused storytelling imbues the ending with a profound sense of loss.
An engrossing mob life tale told in an authentic voice.