The Starlight Club
by Joe Corso
Black Horse Publishing

"The colt 45 caliber bullet did its deed, taking with it a sizeable portion of Rag's brain, forming a pink mist, mixed with bone and grey matte that puffed in front of Rag's head like a small mushroom."

Move over Michael Corleone! While Joe Corso depicts a dispassionate and cold-blooded side to the Italian mafia, he also shows how the members are viewed as family (and where loyalty and trust are traits held in high esteem) in his novel.

The story starts with Robert "Bobby" Valentine, an old man revisiting his past. He takes his daughter to a deli store, a place formerly known as The Starlight Club. When he was younger, he sold meats there. It's also a place where influential figures, like politicians and movie stars, would frequent. The Starlight Club was owned by a mafia underboss named Red. The story does not revolve around Bobby, however, but rather on Red and Trenchie and their dealings. There's a war going on between the different Italian mafia factions and Red is doing his best to keep the war from destroying his own family.

The Starlight Club is a classic 1960's mobster story. The author does a splendid job of creating an atmosphere of smoke and mirrors, cops that are bought and sold, and revenge, through the language of the book alone. Additionally, Corso does an amazing job of getting the reader to sympathize, root for, and understand the mafia mentality. He portrays Red and his gang in a familial and honorable light, making them human and relatable. Red can kill a man by shooting him in the head (while eating a sandwich), but in the same breath he cares for Bobby, an upright teenager who is trying to support his wife and newborn, as well as Jimmy the Hat, a young man whom he wants to escape the mob life. The book is a fascinating, gritty, leave-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat kind of read that will appeal to those who love a good suspense-filled crime tale.

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