Thursday, June 16, 2016

A Tour of the Northeast With Bullets: A Review of Tommy Red

A Guest Review by Stanton McCaffery

Tommy Red by Charlie Stella is an intense and gritty tale of aging mob bosses, crooked cops and federal agents, and one hitman who's too good at his own job. It’s a lean book and a lightning fast read with a plot that touches just about every zip code between New Hampshire and Baltimore.

What strikes you first about this book is the dialogue. There’s really nothing quite like it. Aspiring writers should read this book with a pen and a pad at hand and follow along closely. Accolades on the book’s cover say reading the dialogue is like listening to a conversation. They’re not lying. And as a native New Jerseyan and someone who commutes every day into Manhattan I can tell you that yes, people do indeed talk like this.

The book kicks off when Tommy, who does in fact have red hair, is contracted to gun down a gangster turned tattle-tail discovered in New Hampshire. Through an old friend, Tommy’s paid to go to New Hampshire and make the guy disappear. Unbeknownst to Tommy, the crime family who initially organized the hit wants to tie up any loose ends linking them to the crime, Tommy included. But remember when I said that the hitman’s too good at his own job? Well here's where that comes into play. You’ll have to pick up the book to find out where it goes from there. It’s worth it.

While the dialogue and the plot reel you in, the characters are what make this a gem. Tommy in particular is well executed. He’s not the kind of guy to give excuses for who he is, but woven throughout the book is a backstory starting with the death of his father that makes us empathize with him.

And here’s a warning about all the characters in this book: With the exception of Tommy’s daughter and one FBI agent who's still wet behind the ears, these are not decent people. But, man, are they fun to watch.

Tommy Red
is likely to remind readers of some great movies. I’m thinking maybe The Godfather, maybe Casino, which is actually mentioned, but really Goodfellas. The first time I saw that movie it scared the living shit out of me, how ruthless those guys were. And just like Scorsese with that film, Stella doesn’t hold back on the brutality. You can feel the punches, smell the vomit, and hear the gunshots, except of course when the silencers are used.

My verdict on this one: get it and read it twice.

Stanton McCaffery was born and raised in central New Jersey, where he resides with his wife and son. He has degrees in history and political science and manages communications for a United Nations agency. He is currently working on his first novel. Find him on Twitter here.

1 comment: