THY FATHER’S SON by Leo Rutman


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A born-to-the-Mafia boxer gets entangled in the 1960s mob wars in New York and discovers his true identity—in a tired offering from playwright Rutman.

For a prizefighter whose father is a Mafia don, Davey Rossi has a pretty straight head on his shoulders—the kind of guy who might be good at littering the canvas with unconscious bodies but is a perfect gentleman on the street. It’s New York, circa 1962. Kennedy is facing down the Russians over Cuba, and a turf war is brewing among New York’s Mafia leadership. The opening salvo is the shocking assassination—right after Davey wins a dramatic bout at Madison Square Garden—of Tommy Costanza, graying eminence and fixer extraordinaire for the city’s Five Families. Next up is the kidnapping of Davey’s father, Vince, head of the Rossi crime family, who adopted Davey when he was still an infant. The wolflike Dino Manfredi, who spent time in jail and blamed Tommy and Vince for it, is the first suspected of both attacks. But while Davey is trying to figure out how to save his father and avoid giving too much away to “Johnny Silk,” his adopted brother who’s still not quite trustworthy, there’s also the matter of Davey’s newly discovered heritage. It turns out he’s actually the son of Nails Gordon, a tough Jewish gangster and former comrade of Vince’s who was taken out by the Mafia before the war. This is no small news, and Davey struggles to rearrange everything he knows about himself as his entire world begins collapsing around him. Unfortunately, this premise is better than Rutman’s execution of the whole, and his characters remain disappointingly thin—speaking in stilted Mafia-ese while glowering from behind cigarettes and under fedoras.

Interesting period detail and some fine stylistics can’t hide the staleness of what’s essentially a retread.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-312-29061-6
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2002


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