Road to Paradiseby Max Allan Collins
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Collins chronicled the gripping story of one young boy's travels with his gangster father in the New York Times bestseller Road to Perdition, then led his readers along the unforgettable Road to Purgatory—a tale of this same boy, all grown up. Now, in his most powerful work to date, we again meet Michael Satariano and travel/i>/i>/i>
Collins chronicled the gripping story of one young boy's travels with his gangster father in the New York Times bestseller Road to Perdition, then led his readers along the unforgettable Road to Purgatory—a tale of this same boy, all grown up. Now, in his most powerful work to date, we again meet Michael Satariano and travel with him as he faces the most difficult and heartbreaking struggle of his life.
Lake Tahoe, 1973: Michael Satariano—who as a young man fought the Capone mob in Chicago—has reached a comfortable middle age, with a loving wife at home, a talented teenage daughter in high school, and a son earning medals in Vietnam. Now running a casino for the mob, Michael thinks he's put his killing days behind him—after all, he's made a respectable life for himself and his family . . . and plenty of money for the boys back in Chicago. So when godfather Sam Giancana orders him to hit a notoriously violent and vulnerable gangster, Michael refuses. But when the hit goes down anyway, Michael is framed for murder; to save his family, he must turn state's witness under the fledgling Witness Protection Program.
Relocated to the supposed safety of Paradise, a tract-housing development in Arizona, Michael soon finds himself facing a wrath so cruel that even the boy raised by a hitman father is unprepared. And with his teenage daughter in tow, Michael must return to the road and a violent way of life he thought he had long left behind.
In this stunning third installment of a trilogy so gripping and masterfully written that it could only come from "[among] the finest crime writersworking today" (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel), we once again have a spellbinding window into a time of heroes and villains—and, above all, a journey along a road on which a man's greatest crimes are all a part of his lifelong struggle for redemption.
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Road to Paradise
By Max Collins
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Max Collins
All right reserved.
On the morning of the day his life went to hell, Michael Satariano felt fine.
At fifty, a slender five feet ten, with a face that had remained boyish, his dark brown Beatle-banged hair only lightly touched with gray at the temples, Michael appeared easily ten years younger, and the guess most people made was, "Thirty-five?" Only the deep vertical groove that concentration and worry had carved between his eyebrows gave any hint that life had ever been a burden.
He wore a gray sharkskin suit and a darker gray tie and a very light gray shirt; he did not go in for either the cheesy pastels or Day-Glo colors that so many middle-aged men were affecting in a sad attempt to seem hip. His major concession to fashion was a little sideburn action--that was about it.
And unlike many (most) Outfit guys, Michael had no penchant for jewelry--today he wore pearl cufflinks, gold wedding band on his left hand and single-carat emerald with gold setting on his right. The latter, a present from his wife Pat, was as ostentatious as he got.
His health was perfect, aided and abetted by nonsmoking and light alcohol consumption. His eyesight was fine--in the one eye that war had left him, anyway--and he did not even need glasses for reading, which remained the closest thing to a vice he had: if pulp fiction were pasta, Michael would have been as fat as hisfood-and-beverage man here at Cal-Neva--give him the company of Louis L'Amour, Mickey Spillane or Ray Bradbury, and he was content.
Neither could gambling be counted among the sins of the man whose official position at the resort/casino was Entertainment Director. Nor did he have a reputation for womanizing--he had been married since 1943 to Patricia Ann, the woman he always introduced as his "childhood sweetheart"--and though working in environs littered with attractive young women (from waitresses to showgirls, actresses to songbirds), he rarely felt tempted and had not given in. It was said (not entirely accurately) that he'd never missed a Sunday mass since his marriage.
For this reason he had acquired a mocking nickname--the Saint.
Saint Satariano, the wiseguys called him, particularly the Chicago crowd. Not that his church-going ways were the only thing behind the moniker: for three decades now he had served as the Outfit's respectable front man in various endeavors, the Italian boy who had been the first Congressional Medal of Honor Winner of World War II, the combat soldier whose fame rivaled that of Audie Murphy.
"Saint" had not been his first nickname.
During his months on Bataan in the Philippines, when he was barely out of high school, Michael had earned from the Filipino Scouts a deadly sobriquet: un Demonio Angelico. He had killed literally scores of Japanese in those vicious early days of the war, and had lost his left eye saving Major General Jonathan Wainwright from a strafing Zero. The latter event had been prominent in his Medal of Honor citation, but so had an afternoon battle in which he'd taken out an even fifty of the enemy.
General MacArthur himself had helped smuggle the wounded soldier off Bataan, to give stateside morale a boost with the war's first American G.I. hero. But Michael had not lasted long on the P.R. podium and rubber-chicken circuit--he kept asking his audiences to remember his fellow "boys" who had been abandoned by Uncle Sam back on that bloody island.
And so the adopted son of Pasquale and Sophia Satariano was sent back to Chicago a proud son of Italy (few knew that the boy was really Irish), and had been embraced by Al Capone's successor himself, the dapper and intelligent Frank Nitti, as a good example of just how patriotic a dago could be, Mussolini go fuck himself.
What Nitti had not realized was that Michael was fighting another war, a separate war, a personal war.
The young man's real father had been blessed (or perhaps damned) with his own colorful nickname: the Angel of Death. Michael Satariano was in long-ago reality Michael O'Sullivan, Jr., son of the infamous enforcer who had railed against the Looney gang of the Tri-Cities and their powerful allies, the Capone mob of Chicago . . .
. . . that same Angel of Death whose face had appeared on True Detective magazine covers, and in several movies that had romanticized Mike O'Sullivan, Sr., into a kind of Robin Hood who had traveled the Midwest stealing mob money from banks and giving it to poor farmers and other Depression unfortunates.
The story went that Mike O'Sullivan had been the top lieutenant of Rock Island's Irish godfather, John Looney, but that (back in '31) O'Sullivan and Looney's homicidal offspring Connor had vied for the old man's chair, which led to an attempt on O'Sullivan's life, that succeeded only in taking out the Angel's wife, Annie, and younger son, Peter.
This tale was true as far as it went, but the power-play aspect was guesswork by second- and third-rate journalists. Michael Satariano knew why and how the Looney feud had really begun: he himself, at the tender age of eleven, had stowed away on one of his father's "missions" (as he and Peter used to romantically put it, daydreaming that Papa and his gun were doing the bidding of President Hoover).
Instead the boy had stumbled onto a mob killing, witnessing Connor Looney murdering an unarmed man, followed by his own father machine-gunning a clutch of the murdered man's understandably riled compatriots.
So it was that Connor had schemed to wipe out the O'Sullivan family, only to fail miserably, as was Connor's wont.
The two surviving O'Sullivans--Michaels senior and junior--had become outlaws, moving by car from one small Midwestern town to another, striking out at the Capone Outfit by hitting banks where the gang hid its loot, to pressure the Chicago Boys into giving Connor over to the Angel's righteous vengeance. This went on . . .
Excerpted from Road to Paradise by Max Collins Copyright © 2006 by Max Collins. Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
Max Allan Collins is the author of the Shamus Award-winning Nathan Heller historical thrillers. His other books include the New York Times bestseller Saving Private Ryan and the USA Today bestselling CSI series. His comics writing ranges from the graphic novel Road to Perdition, source of the Tom Hanks film, to long runs as scripter of the Dick Tracy comic strip and his own innovative Ms. Tree. Collins is also a screenwriter and a leading indie filmmaker in his native Iowa, where he lives with his wife, writer Barbara Collins, and their son, Nathan.
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As a youngster named Michael O'Sullivan Jr. he fought with his father against the Chicago mob. However, he changed his name to Michael Satariano and though ¿legit¿, the fifty years old fronts for the mob as the head of the Cal-Neva Lodge and Casino in Lake Tahoe. Michael is already thinking of retirement with his beloved spouse. He loves his teenage daughter and worries about his son serving in Nam. Still life is perfect. --- That changes when Sam Giancana returns from self-deployed exile in Mexico to regain his job as the Godfather regardless of cost. He orders hits and many people including innocents die. Sam demands Michael kill someone, but he refuses. When the homicide occurs, the evidence points towards Michael. The Feds cut a deal in which he testifies against Sam and will disappear with his family inside the Witness Protection Program in Paradise, Arizona. However, the past is coming for him and he must take to the road just like his dad did, one killing at a time. --- This is terrific final tale that grips the audience just like the previous two novels (and movie) did. The story line starts off idyllic as the audience meets the middle age Michael, a former killing machine chip off the old block and his family. He is middle class America circa 1973. When Sam demands being anointed as king of the mob again, the action explodes leading to a High Noon climax. Max Allan Collins is at his best as completes his terrific road trilogy with a triumph and perhaps the audience can coax him into one more for the road. --- Harriet Klausner