Kirkus Star


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A very funny, rude, contemporary canvas portrays the elements of racketeering and gangsterdom in everyday life and follows the career of Big Sol from a chaser of petty dibs to the president of impromptu unions. It opens with his defiance of a murder charge and his first tangle with D.A. Rowley who is out to break the protection that hoodlums from Rivington, Hester, Broome and other East Side streets receive from criminally paternalistic Gilkie, his mouthpiece Shapiro. Sol, with Charlie Brazil, muscles into unionization problems, is slapped down by Gilkie so that he can add them to his dependents. He sets them up in a shop of their own, but a vanished payroll sends them hotfoot to North Carolina. There, under the protection of the Chief of Police, they run a profitable barroom, and, after some superior chiseling, they leave safely and well heeled. Sol rises in Gilkie's ranks, gets out of entanglements with two girls, marries respectable Rose, gambles away her ring and mink coat and wrecks the marriage in his efforts to help her family. He works up to a final split with Gilkie and is caught by the F.B.I. Rowley, in clamping down on all of Gilkie's henchmen, throws the book at Sol and drives him to suicide. The exploits, attitudes, dialog is often howlingly funny even if the overall picture of organized crime leaves a bad taste. Of definite masculine appeal.

Pub Date: Sept. 20th, 1949
Publisher: Houghton, Mifflin