Monday, February 1, 2016

Tom & Lucky (and George & Cokey Flo) - C. Joseph Greaves

Happy February! My review of C. Joseph Greaves' Tom & Lucky (and George & Cokey Flo) first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers. I am posting it today with their permission. Hope you enjoy.

First line: "'Six is the point.'"

Following-up his first historical novel, Hard Twisted, C. Joseph Greaves gives readers a front row seat to one of the greatest courtroom dramas in U.S. history: the battle between gangster Charles "Lucky" Luciano and the special prosecutor determined to bring him down, Thomas Dewey.

Greaves has meticulously blurred the lines between fact and fiction in this novel that reads with the momentum of a legal thriller and throws back the curtain on political shenanigans. Braiding the plot together with the perspectives of Tom and Lucky as well as the talented defense attorney George Levy and the prosecution's star witness, Cokey Flo Brown, Greaves delves into the compulsory prostitution trial of the notorious mob boss. While building the background of each character takes time, the result is a robust view of a highly dysfunctional case.

In an especially effective approach, Greaves opts to tell only Cokey Flo's story from the first person perspective, lending the drug-addled con woman credibility and empathy while casting greater suspicion on both defendant and prosecutor. Still, Greaves doesn't let the reader forget Flo's motivations or her checkered history. There are no white hats in this New York courtroom.

The trial transcript and character dialogue work to create the unsavory atmosphere of New York's mob network as well as the Depression-era scarcity. And the fastidious research enables Greaves to seamlessly meld the four lives into one engrossing story.

Whether readers have an interest in the time period, gangster fiction or historical novels, they will find plenty to captivate them in Tom & Lucky (and George & Cokey Flo).

Tom & Lucky (and George & Cokey Flo) is available in hardcover (ISBN: 9781620407851) from Bloomsbury. You can find a copy at your favorite independent bookstore or the following retailers:

Alibris Amazon Barnes & Noble
Book Depository iTunes Kobo


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