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Gangland

Review

Gangland

Having just blasted through Chuck Hogan’s GANGLAND in less than two days of voracious reading, I am happy to report that it is one of my favorite books of 2022. Granted, it will not be for some readers as it is a highly specialized fictional account of the mob operating in Chicago in the late 1970s. Among the cast of characters are real-life Mafia bosses Tony Accardo, Sam Giancana and Joey Aiuppa. The imaginary underlings with colorful nicknames, including Sally Brags, Crease Man and Cue Stick, engage in traditional Mafia behavior. And the dialogue is reminiscent of The Godfather or Goodfellas.

"As Passero and his cohorts travel the streets and highways of Chicago and its suburbs, readers can almost see the houses, businesses, restaurants and other locales. The story moves quickly, and danger lurks throughout."

The underpinnings of GANGLAND come from an actual event in the life of the Chicago mob. In January 1978, while Accardo and his wife were vacationing in Palm Springs, his Chicago-area home was burglarized. The crime was believed to be in response to Accardo imposing punishment on those participating in the Christmas Day burglary of a lucrative jewelry store that was protected by the Organization. Accardo retaliated for what he considered to be a personal insult, and dead bodies were soon discovered across the Windy City. Law enforcement compared Accardo’s revenge to the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, only in slow motion.

Accardo turned to Anthony Spilotro, a member of the Las Vegas mob, to exact his revenge. But in GANGLAND, the assignment goes to Nicky Passero, a fictional loyal member of Accardo’s organization. He is known as Nicky Pins because he owns a bowling alley in addition to his work as a loyal soldier and bookmaker. Readers will learn early on that his loyalty to the Organization is compromised by two factors. Principally, the FBI has some information on Passero that they often threaten to reveal when they need his assistance. Additionally, he has a rare trait for a mob enforcer: a conscience. On occasion, that conscience causes him to question some of his assignments, which ultimately will be his downfall.

Chuck Hogan is an award-winning novelist and screenwriter whose style includes true-to-life dialogue and immersion into the settings of his books. As Passero and his cohorts travel the streets and highways of Chicago and its suburbs, readers can almost see the houses, businesses, restaurants and other locales. The story moves quickly, and danger lurks throughout. Passero is an entertaining character, a murderer who also is a tragic figure. Even the mob bosses themselves show some human frailties. They have wives and children, and worry if their families will have an enjoyable Christmas, which they sometimes think about as they plot vengeance on an unsuspecting victim. It all makes for a fast-paced novel.

Hogan’s PRINCE OF THIEVES became the Ben Affleck film The Town, and I can imagine a similar fate for GANGLAND. As I read it, I could picture the cast in my head, which included stalwarts like Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. Nicky Passero will need to be much younger, but let the casting begin. Another ultimate gangster tale might soon be coming to theaters or streaming on your favorite device.

Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman on August 5, 2022

Gangland
by Chuck Hogan

  • Publication Date: August 2, 2022
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 1538751755
  • ISBN-13: 9781538751756