This new novel by Kevin Baker has all the ingredients for a blockbuster novel. There are two Irish brothers who have come to America seeking success with all the perks that come with it. One is middle-aged and jaded by his run to the top in New York City, the other young and full of ambition and naivete. The O'Kane brothers, Charlie and Tom, take similar paths but with radically different moral choices.
Charlie, the elder brother, becomes the District Attorney and then mayor of the city. He must, therefore, deal with the corruption, the mob bosses, the unions, and at the same time face the lingering death of his beloved wife. His second wife, Slim, is a gorgeous model much younger than Charlie and his marriage to her will change his life and his choices in many ways.
Tom also works his way up as an attorney and is always judged by his brother's success. He ends up working for D.A. Hogan investigating an intriguingly suspicious murder that happened when Charlie was mayor. A killer-for-hire is under guard in a seedy motel and telling where the bodies are - literally - when he goes out the window and dies. It looks like an attempted escape.
Meanwhile we are titillated by Tom's affair with Slim, his guilt over said affair knowing that Charlie is besotted with the woman, and Tom's growing love for another woman.
Sounds good, doesn't it? The problem is that the story is told in a jumbled fashion, jumping from 1939 to 1953 to 1945, and from New York to Mexico and back. There are so many characters you need to remember I should have made a list. I would just get used to the brothers being in Mexico in 1953 when the story would jump back in years and to New York City, from the New York docks to a failed resort in Mexico, from Charlie's life to Tom's and back again. It was so confusing that I couldn't really enjoy it.
I consider myself fairly knowledgeable about the city and its history, and I love NYC. However, even though this is based on a true unsolved mystery, I just couldn't follow it.
Recommended for those who love big sagas
Source: Amazon Vine