Finalist for the Claymore and Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards
Since separating from her philandering husband, Boca Raton writer Becks Ruchinsky has struggled to build a closer relationship with her quirky and contentious father, Tootsie, who lives in a retirement home. One evening, as she and her father are relaxing on the home’s front porch, an elderly woman accuses Tootsie of having murdered her husband fifty years earlier.
Tootsie admits to ratting on the man, who’d cheated their Jewish syndicate boss out of thousands of dollars, but denies killing the widow’s husband. He also admits to having friends in the Jewish mafia and shares stories about his experiences. But the more time she spends with her father, the more convinced Becks becomes that Tootsie is lying about his involvement. Determined to discover the truth about her dad’s past, she sets out on a journey to undercover his darkest secrets. She learns he worked for the Jewish mafia –running numbers for the Cuban lottery, beating up Nazi sympathizers, and smuggling arms to Israeli independence fighters. When she learns that he murdered his best friend and, possibly, his own brother, she must decide if she can accept his criminal past – or cut him out of her life.
The Yiddish Gangster’s Daughter also explores the impact our parents’ relationships have on our own. Throughout the book, Becks challenges her father on his infidelity toward her mother and becomes frustrated by his refusal to acknowledge that what he did was hurtful to his entire family. She’s upset when Tootsie minimizes her husband’s affair and encourages her to take him back. Ultimately, Becks realizes that she cannot forgive her husband for cheating until she comes to terms with her father’s infidelities…and her mother’s willingness to put up with them.
A gripping and thought-provoking murder mystery, this award-winning novel explores the colorful and precarious world of the 1940s and 1950s Jewish mafia . . . and the limits of familial love.
Praise for The Yiddish Gangster’s Daughter
. . . an engaging, multi-layered family saga cum mystery where a fifty-something woman and mother of two grown sons suddenly discovers that the comfortable, predictable life she has been living is nothing but a sham. Her attempts to make sense of her impossible new reality are both touching and gripping, making for a truly unique literary experience. Les Standiford, The Last Train to Paradise
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite The Yiddish Gangster's Daughter is a standalone mystery novel by author Joan Lipinsky Cochran, written for adults. The central character is Becks Ruchinsky, whose life is already in turmoil with the news of her husband’s betrayal. As she’s already trying to recover from this awful news, she finds out that her father, Tootsie, has been accused of a murder that took place in his youth. Fifty years ago, Tootsie worked for the Jewish syndicate, running numbers for mobsters and racketeering, as well as being involved in illegal arms dealing. Horrified by the truth of her father’s past, Becks discovers more and more as she finds it harder and harder to forgive him. I found Tootsie’s story much more interesting than Becks’s dilemma, but that’s not to say that the two don’t go together well. Telling the story from now and looking back lends a somewhat comforting air to the tale, softening some of the blows of the difficult and dangerous life that Tootsie led when he was younger. Joan Lipinsky Cochran has done a fantastic job of illustrating the life of a Jewish gangster and the reasons why these men lived and worked in the way that they did, whilst also giving us a modern day voice and opinion on the past through Becks. Overall, I’d recommend The Yiddish Gangster's Daughter to readers who enjoy both historical fiction and women’s fiction, as the emotional story line of forgiveness and discovery runs hand in hand with the fascinating and exciting life of gangsters five decades ago.
Reviewed by Keith Julius for Readers' Favorite In The Yiddish Gangster's Daughter, author Joan Lipinsky Cochran introduces us to Becky Ruchinsky, a forty-something mother of two who finds her life moving in some totally unexpected directions. Her two sons have headed off to college, leaving her at home with her husband, Daniel, a renowned oncologist, and Becky has finally managed to make amends with her elderly father, Tootsie. Tootsie, a resident of the Schmuel Bernstein Jewish Home for the Aged, has been alone for two years now following the death of Becky's mother. But even before then their relationship had been strained, after Becky learned of her father's infidelity toward her mother. She tries to be a good daughter, but she can't forgive him for the pain he brought to the family. Returning home after a visit with the old man, Becky receives a phone message informing her that her husband, Daniel, has likewise been cheating on her. Overwhelmed with emotions, she feels her life crashing down around her as she throws Daniel out of the house. How could things possibly get any worse? But get worse they do. While Becky is visiting her father, Tootsie lets slip a casual comment regarding the fact that he was involved with gangsters in Miami before Becky was born. She pressures him for more details and begins to learn the truth. Though the story is told predominately from Becky's point of view, we get occasional glimpses from Tootsie's perspective as well, as he reflects on his past and the choices he made to support his family. The story is richly detailed with believable characters and realistic dialogue, and paced to keep the reader interested and anticipating the next revelation, as we learn some shocking secrets regarding the family history and the role Tootsie and her Uncle Moe played in it. Joan Lipinsky Cochran presents an intriguing story line as The Yiddish Gangster's Daughter begins to piece together the fragments of her father's life into a coherent story filled with poor decisions and bad mistakes and, yes, gangsters. It's a lifestyle that eventually overtakes Becky and threatens not only her life but the lives of her loved ones. The book will have you eagerly turning pages as you await the revelations at the end of Becky's search to discover the truth regarding the father she thought she knew.