Mickey Prada can’t catch a break. A year out of high school, he works at Vincent’s Fish Market at Flatbush and Avenue J, hoping to save enough to study accounting at Baruch. His mother was killed years ago in a hit-and-run, so he lives in a two-room apartment with his dad, whose Alzheimer’s sends him wandering all over Brooklyn trying to buy groceries for his dead wife. His bowling buddies—likable jerk Chris Turner, fat Ralph DeMarco, and foul-mouthed Filippo Castellano—bust his chops about his love life. His boss, Harry Giordano, busts his chops at work. But Mickey doesn’t know what tough luck is until Angelo Santoro walks into Vincent’s asking for a pound of steamed shrimp and a little help laying down some action on the Chargers. Soon Mickey owes his bookie, Artie, over two thou, and his only hope of paying up is to join Chris, Ralph, and Filippo in a seat-of-their-pants heist at Filippo’s cousin’s in Manhattan Beach. Hot tempers lead to bloodshed, and Mickey ends up back in Brooklyn, no richer, waiting for the police to come knocking at his door. Worse, the knock brings unexpected news: Mickey’s father is dead, and Mickey has his funeral expenses to add to his mounting pile of debts. The pressure keeps on building as Mickey struggles cluelessly for a way back to his dream of a happy life as a CPA.
Starr (Hard Feelings, 2002, etc.) piles on the misery relentlessly in his latest black-on-black entry.