LEGS by William Kennedy


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A very high-class gangster epic about Jack ""Legs"" Diamond whose deeds loom large in Prohibition annals. The writing strives for grandeur (it's sure better than Puzo's), with some occult touches and bright Jimmy Cagney-Mae Clark patter. Legs has ten ion dollars in booze stashed away in the Catskills, where he's on the lam after blowing several holes into Tim Leafy at Legs' own Hotsy Totsy Club in mid-Manhattan. The story, told by his adoring Albany lawyer Marcus German, covers Legs' last two years. He is called Jack by those who know him but his nickname is shown to be appropriate in a lovely scene where he reluctantly wings out a Charleston and Black Bottom with a chorine called Kiki. Gentleman Jack's main interest, aside from bootlegging and protecting himself from rival gangs, is ragging his beautiful wife Alice about his sexy mistress Kiki and dividing his time between their separate menages. He has some kind of real heart for these broads (though canaries are sometimes seen to drop dead in their cages when Jack walks in) and few readers will forget Kilo's kiss-and-make-up failure at fudge-making after Jack breaks her hand in his. There are several stand-out scenes that cry for film and they are funny and despite pretensions -- effective.

Pub Date: April 30th, 1975
ISBN: 0140064842
Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan