Cover image for Gangsterland : a novel
Title:
Gangsterland : a novel
Author:
Goldberg, Tod, author.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Berkeley, California : Counterpoint, [2014]
Physical Description:
387 pages; 24 cm
Summary:
"Sal Cupertine is a legendary hit man for the Chicago Mafia, known for his ability to get in and out of a crime without a trace. Until now, that is. His first-ever mistake forces Sal to botch an assassination, killing three undercover FBI agents in the process. This puts too much heat on Sal, and he knows this botched job will be his death sentence to the Mafia. So he agrees to their radical idea to save his own skin. A few surgeries and some intensive training later, and Sal Cupertine is gone, disappeared into the identity of Rabbi David Cohen. Leading his growing congregation in Las Vegas, overseeing the population and the temple and the new cemetery, Rabbi Cohen feels his wicked past slipping away from him, surprising even himself as he spouts quotes from the Torah or the Old Testament. Yet, as it turns out, the Mafia isn't quite done with him yet. Soon the new cemetery is being used as both a money and body-laundering scheme for the Chicago family. And that rogue FBI agent on his trail, seeking vengeance for the murder of his three fellow agents, isn't going to let Sal fade so easily into the desert. Gangsterland is the wickedly dark and funny new novel by a writer at the height of his power - a morality tale set in a desert landscape as ruthless and barren as those who inhabit it. "--
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781619023444
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

Sal Cupertine is a legendary hit man for the Chicago Mafia, known for his ability to get in and out of a crime without a trace. Until now, that is. His first-ever mistake forces Sal to botch an assassination, killing three undercover FBI agents in the process. This puts too much heat on Sal, and he knows this botched job will be his death sentence to the Mafia. So he agrees to their radical idea to save his own skin.

A few surgeries and some intensive training later, and Sal Cupertine is gone, disappeared into the identity of Rabbi David Cohen. Leading his growing congregation in Las Vegas, overseeing the population and the temple and the new cemetery, Rabbi Cohen feels his wicked past slipping away from him, surprising even himself as he spouts quotes from the Torah or the Old Testament. Yet, as it turns out, the Mafia isn't quite done with him yet. Soon the new cemetery is being used as both a money and body-laundering scheme for the Chicago family. And that rogue FBI agent on his trail, seeking vengeance for the murder of his three fellow agents, isn't going to let Sal fade so easily into the desert.

Gangsterland is the wickedly dark and funny new novel by a writer at the height of his power - a morality tale set in a desert landscape as ruthless and barren as those who inhabit it.


Author Notes

Tod Goldberg is the author of the crime-tinged novels Living Dead Girl, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Fake Liar Cheat, and the popular Burn Notice series. His essay "When They Let Them Bleed" first published in Hobart was selected by Cheryl Strayed for inclusion in Best American Essays 2013. He is also the author of the story collections Simplify, a 2006 finalist for the SCIBA Award for Fiction and winner of the Other Voices Short Story Collection Prize, and Other Resort Cities. His short fiction has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, twice receiving Special Mention for the Pushcart Prize as well as being named a Distinguished Story of the Year in the 2009 Best American Mystery Stories. His essays, journalism, and criticism appear regularly in many publications, including the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and Las Vegas CityLife and have been featured in Salon, Wall Street Journal, E!, and Jewcy among many others.


Reviews 2

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Sal Cupertine, the Chicago Mob's go-to hitman, expects that his Mob-boss cousin, Ronnie, will have him killed after Sal kills three undercover FBI agents. Occupational hazard, thinks the thoughtful killer; his biggest concern is for his wife and young son. So he is surprised when he is spirited out of Chicago to Las Vegas and, after a series of surgeries, is told that he will become David Cohen, youth rabbi at sprawling and prosperous Temple Beth Israel. In due course, he is counseling synagogue members with nuggets of wisdom from the Torah and Talmud, and, occasionally, paraphrased Springsteen lyrics and reading the Kaddish for dead gangsters from all over the country who are interred as Jews in the synagogue's cemetery. Back in Chicago, the fired FBI agent responsible for the loss of the undercovers is sure Sal is alive and determined to find him; Rabbi Cohen is scheming to reunite with his family and wondering who is the bigger gangster: the synagogue's founder, Rabbi Kales, or Bennie Savone, strip-club owner, synagogue benefactor, and Kales' son-in-law? Sal's transformation and intermittent edification into Rabbi Cohen is brilliantly rendered, and Goldberg's careening plot, cast of memorably dubious characters, and mordant portrait of Las Vegas make this one of the year's best hard-boiled crime novels.--Gaughan, Thomas Copyright 2014 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Complex characters with understandable motivations distinguish this highly unusual crime novel from Goldberg (Living Dead Girl). When a sample of some particularly fine heroin causes Sal Cupertine, a hit man for the Chicago Family, to abandon his usual careful methods and execute three undercover FBI agents in a downtown hotel, Sal is certain that the Mafia will make him disappear. What he doesn't expect is that, months later, after multiple plastic surgeries and much study of Judaic holy texts, he will reemerge into the light of day in Las Vegas as Rabbi David Cohen. Back in Chicago, FBI agent Jeff Hopper is determined to track Sal down and make him pay for killing his team of agents. All Sal really wants to do is get to his wife, Jennifer, and their toddler son, William, and then disappear. Goldberg injects Talmudic wisdom and a hint of Springsteen into the workings of organized crime and FBI investigative techniques and makes it all work splendidly. Agent: Jennie Dunham, Dunham Literary. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Six months he'd been in the same house, not allowed to walk out the front door, only out back, only at night. Not that he'd been up for any travel, not with the litany of surgeries he'd gone through: a new nose and chin, a bunch of teeth ripped out and replaced with a permanent implant. They'd lasered off his tattoos, shaved his head, got him to start wearing glasses. And the last thing, he hoped, was this new jaw. Even the surgeries had been done in secret -- driven in the back of a windowless van in the middle of the night and hustled into a doctor's office, Sal shot up full of anesthesia and then waking up back in the house. It was at the point now where he didn't even bother taking the pain medication. Every part of his body hurt and all the Percocets in the world weren't going to make it any better, not while he was being held captive in an elegant two-story house with a saltwater pool, indoor hot tub and sauna, full gym, and a good 500 cable channels pumped into every room in the joint. Excerpted from Gangsterland by Tod Goldberg All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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