In Galdi’s (An American Cage, 2017) casino-heist novella, a limo driver reluctantly takes a job with the Russian mob to help his brother out of a sticky situation.
When his younger brother accidentally loses a kilo of cocaine he’d planned to sell, Brian Rolson needs a quick way to pay off his brother’s supplier without their dad finding out. So he agrees to be a driver for New York City’s illegal gambling scene, shuttling players to a series of high-rise penthouses that serve as makeshift casinos. A witty observer, Brian skewers his mysterious riders: “a Wall Street type with the beginnings of an old man’s turkey neck but wrinkleless cheeks and forehead, as if he recently got a facelift and doesn’t go back for the neck job for another few weeks.” The tension mounts as Brian drops off his customers and, as a security measure, is forced to join them inside the building under the watchful eye of the casino’s menacing ringleader, Igor Krevanov. As an added twist, Brian’s father is a New Jersey state trooper. If Dad follows his hunches about Brian’s sudden change in behavior, he poses almost as much of a risk to Brian as the NYPD. But the chauffeur never loses his heart of gold. He dreams of loftier pursuits once he’s earned enough money to quit his dangerous job, drawing inspiration from his co-worker Dusty, a gregarious character who enjoys woodworking on the side. Brian understands both the value and the fragility of life; for the amateur criminal, one wrong move could add up to “years lost, a wife never to meet her husband, children never to be born.” But working for the mob has inherent risks, and when Brian’s girlfriend, Samantha, is unwittingly thrown into the mix, he and Dusty devise a daring plan to get revenge and quit the business once and for all.
This entertaining and fast-paced read is a good bet.