LAST OF THE GOOD GUYS - John Carbone
LAST OF THE GOOD GUYS is blurbed as having echoes of The Godfather, Goodfellas and Sleepers. What it does have is a very different sort of style. It's written in the first person, the central narrator - Marco - talking about his life, how he became a gangster, how he and his friends worked that life, what happens to them when he tries to get out, how it affects his friends and family. The "getting out" is complicated when Marco and his gang come up against corrupt authorities - two people who want nothing more than to wipe Uncle Tony, Marco and the rest of the gang off the face of the planet.
The thing you take away most from LAST OF THE GOOD GUYS is the style or tone. It's very matter of fact. Firstly about the way of life that gets you into crime, how they set up a house renovation business to "explain" the money, about the obscene amounts of money they could accumulate. And mostly about the relationships within the gang and with their girlfriends, wives, partners and families. The matter of fact acceptance of violence, of death, of revenge and the cold blooded removal of roadblocks - human or physical. The way that a life can simply be dumped - the cash is the only important element - take the cash - disappear - set up a new life - drop that life - disappear again - move around - form relationships - dump relationships - anything that it takes to stay alive.
And that's the final thing that you take away to ponder long and hard. Is a life lived like this, with no second glances, no consideration of the damage caused as it proceeds and absolutely and utterly no guilt, really worth living? Marco gets to the end of this book as untroubled by the chaos he's caused as he was as a damaged and troubled young boy. Sure he discovers things that might seem to some to mean that he has a future - but there's a brutal failure to accept the past.
On the streets of 1970s Brooklyn, it's all about walking tall and making your own luck. Marco Bolzani refuses to work a dead-end job, wasting his life away for a few measly bucks. So he goes into 'business' with his closest friends. Compared to the guys around them, bank robbers and murderers, they're just a group of small-time hoods that aren't making any real noise.
That is, until Macro's Uncle Tony gets involved.