Jim Fusilli, the Pop and Rock Music Critic for the Wall Street Journal, is the author of the critically-acclaimed Terry Orr crime series, among other books. He was the project editor and a contributing writer for the Audible Original projects The Chopin Manuscript and The Copper Bracelet. He was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, a place very much like Narrows Gate.
Narrows Gateby Jim Fusilli
Vivid characters driven by demons and desire clash with
In the years surrounding World War II, a gritty Italian-American waterfront community in the shadow of New York City known as Narrows Gate is home to brutal wise guys, a gifted crooner hell bent on success and two young friends who have no idea what the future holds or how it can rip them apart.
Vivid characters driven by demons and desire clash with gut-wrenching force in Jim Fusilli’s violent, visceral novel as crime, rank ambition and the promise of the American dream battle for the souls of Bebe Marsala, the talented but compromised crooner; the happy-go-lucky Sal Benno, who is trapped by the mob; and Leo Bell, a newly minted member of the Office of Strategic Services, the predecessor of the CIA. A powerful epic in the spirit of such groundbreaking works as Mario Puzo’s The Godfather and Budd Schulberg’s On the Waterfront, Fusilli’s saga races to Hollywood, Havana, Las Vegas and the battlefields of Sicily before it explodes in an unexpected and unforgettable conclusion.
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- 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.50(d)
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Narrows Gate is the kind of immigrant neighborhood in New York that everyone is familiar with from books and movies. Lots of poverty, but close-knit families. Not many chances for economic success leading to enterprising men making their way however they can. Started as an Italian immigrant neighborhood, by WWII it was divided between the Italians and the Irish. This is the world Leo Bell, his friend Sal Benno, and Bebe Marsela grow up in. Each chooses a different path for his life. Leo is smart and joins the military during the war where his intelligence is recognized and he is recruited to work for the government. Benno has to hustle to make a living, and finds ways to make himself useful to the Mafia figures that control the city. Bebe recreates himself as Bill Marsela, a crooner that makes the women swoon and all the men jealous of his luck. Jim Fusilli has written an intriguing novel that follows the life of these three characters as they navigate life in the city in the 1940's. Full of well-researched details, the reader learns how criminal organizations grow and take over any enterprise in their vicinity that has the potential to make money. This was the heyday of the Mafia and their plans to control the entertainment industry. It was the time that Las Vegas was built, created by Mafia figures as a money-making enterprise. The tension between the main characters, the government and the Mafia is carefully crafted and ratcheted up leading to a satisfying resolution. This book is highly recommended for readers interested in a compelling read with fascinating characters and an intricate plot.
I chose to read this one on a trans Pacific flight, thinking that the 544 pages would keep me company for the duration. They did, but it would have been a better book had about 144 of those pages been chopped off. The author needs an editor as there is just too much going one here. I felt like a baby seal when I finished.