The Drop, starring James Gandolfini, Noomi Rapace and Tom Hardy is a wonderfully paced and low-key character study of a former tough guy and his cousin. Directed by Michaël R. Roskam, in what is his second feature length film and adapted by Dennis Lehane from his own short story Animal Rescue, the film is a visit to the underbelly of the back streets and alleyways of Brooklyn. Lehane deviated from his usual setting of Boston and as a result the movie almost sings with the wealth of “Brooklyn-ese” that spills from the lips of all the characters.
Ever since stumbling across The Long Good Friday years ago and which is one brilliant little independent British gangster film starring Bob Hoskins and Helen Mirren, I can never start the Easter weekend without thinking of this gem. This small budgeted movie which caused me to fall in love with not only Mirren, but the short dynamo of talent that is Bob Hoskins never grows old. The mists of time have obscured just how the film came to be viewed, but it was in England that I first saw it. Having lived there long enough to recognise quite a number of Brit actors who were now quite big in the world of television and film. Watching this film over Easter weekend has become a tradition and not just for the beautiful Mirren.
Just in case you didn’t know, author Jack O’Halloran has been many things in his lifetime. He was a professional Heavyweight Boxer from 1966 to 1974. He’s been an actor and worked in ten feature films (most notably Superman I and II) and done a fair share of television. He manages Long Beach Studios and he is an author. (Information courtesy of Wikipedia)
This man has been busy.
His first book is Family Legacy. A story about a young man who, after being told that his father died in the second world war, finds out that he is alive and well. Not only did he not die, he’s Albert Anastasia, aka Umberto Anastasio, aka the head of Murder Inc. One of the most notorious men in the history of organised crime.
This young man’s name is Jack Pagano. A “normal” high school student who is a star football player and who has a friend called Rip who teaches him about self-defence and other useful things.
When Jack comes home to find Albert Anastasia sitting in his kitchen drinking coffee with his mother, he’s surprised. He’s even further surprised when he finds out that Albert is his “dead” father.
Jack doesn’t have very long to let this new information sink in before Anastasia is murdered while getting his hair cut. Jack is immediately thrust into the world of organised crime and he begins the long road toward his destiny.
This was an entertaining first book. Based on real characters who were active in the world of crime and politics back in the 1950’s and 60’s. Using this “real world” base for his starting block, the book feels almost like a “true crime” novel instead of a work of fiction. We follow Jack as he learns who he can trust and who he cannot.
We also feel his confusion when the lines between friend and foe become blurred putting his life and those he loves in danger. Events in the book run up to the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas on the 22nd of November 1963 and the after effects of this obscene act. The book ends in a way that leads me to believe that there are more stories about Jack and his new cronies in the secret world of the Mafia.
The canvas of the book includes the Kefauver hearings and the machinations of Joe Kennedy and others behind the scenes who insured that JFK would win the election. It also shows the tensions of the Cuba crisis from the personal level of Jack’s new girlfriend as well as the publicised paranoia.
I enjoyed the book and gave it a 4 out of 5 stars because the book, to me, lagged in places. I was not expecting a breakneck pace, but, in order to give all the background it tends to slow down and distract from the overall action. It does not happen often and certainly not enough to hurt the book. But it did cause me to drop that fifth star.
Great book and one wonders if it is somewhat autobiographical in nature as O’Halloran himself revealed that he is the son of the infamous Anastasia. I don’t know about that, but I do know that he’s lead an interesting and varied life and it shows in his first book.
Bravo Jack. I want to read more about Jack Pagano and his “rise” in the organisation.
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