Button Man
by Gross, Andrew

A disadvantaged but once happy immigrant family is brought together and torn apart by the birth of organized crime in 1930s New York City. By the New York Times best-selling author of The Dark Tide.

Andrew Gross is the author of New York Times and international bestsellers The Blue Zone, Don't Look Twice, and The Dark Tide, which was nominated for the Best Thriller of the Year award by the International Thriller Writers, Reckless, Eyes Wide Open, and One Mile Under. He is also coauthor of several number one bestsellers with James Patterson, including Judge & Jury and Lifeguard. He lives in Westchester County, New York, with his wife, Lynn.

*Starred Review* Gross' historical suspense novel delivers a gut-wrenching, noirish portrait of Jewish organized crime and labor unionism in 1930s New York. By personalizing key characters, the author immerses readers in a maze of labor racketeering and political and police corruption, upping the nail-biting suspense chapter by chapter. The narrative follows Morris and Sol, two Rabishevsky brothers striving to stay afloat in their garment business while fighting the pressure of union takeovers and price controlling by criminals and criminal organizations (Dutch Schultz and Murder, Inc.). Meanwhile, Harry, the other Rabishevsky brother, wastes his days consorting with button men (hired killers), hoping to find acceptance among them. These are characters you won't forget, as they exist in a complex nightmare brought on by the Depression, immigration, poverty, and greed. The surprise is that any good men rise to fight. Alternately frightful and fascinating, the story viscerally describes the era, exposing the motives and fears that drive each character and play out on the streets. Neil Kleid's graphic novel Brownsville? (2006) also vividly portrays many of the same criminals, along with District Attorney Thomas Dewey, who fought them in court. Readers might also like the fast-paced Quinn mystery series by Michael Mayo for another perspective on the same period. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

A businessman resists the mob in a novel that spans most of the 20th century. In 1915, Manhattan's Lower East Side is a tough place for 12-year-old Morris Rabishevsky and his siblings to grow up. He takes a job sweeping floors at the Majestic Garment Company, but his drive and ambition are obvious. The owner suggests he go by Morris Raab—because Rabishevsky is "a mouthful for some people here"—and he and his mother agree. But street punks try to shake him down on payday, and he has to fight tough guy Louis Buchalter to keep his money. Morris has "never backed down from anything" and is much tougher than his brothers, Sol and Harold. Every character's personal qualities factor strongly in this story. Morris' drive and intelligence lead to his running Majestic at age 20 when the owner retires. Later, he and Sol start their own garment manufacturer, Raab Brothers. Morris' brash approach wins business with a big chain store, and the company grows. Sol knows how to kee p the books but doesn't know how to sell. Their other brother, Harold, is a likable screw-up who hangs out with the wrong crowd, even mobsters, and might well ruin what becomes the family business. Louis Buchalter grows up to be a cutthroat mobster, taking over garment unions and running Murder Incorporated. The mob has a way of breaking down resistance to the unions: They throw a man out an eighth-floor window, splash an owner with sulfuric acid, destroy his inventory. Of course, the Raab Brothers' success attracts Buchalter's attention, and the resulting conflict is one of life and death. New York Special Prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey seeks Morris' cooperation in destroying the mob, but Morris and his business might perish in the process. At a funeral, a rabbi asks, "What does it mean to be a good man?" If it means standing up to evil, then Morris Raab qualifies. A highly satisfying story of family loyalty, persistence, courage, and crime. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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