Thursday, January 03, 2013

Charlie Stella is righteous

I read the last two-thirds of Charlie Stella's Mafiya last night, and if roosters crowed in South Philadelphia, I'd have heard them greet the new day.

Among my observations on the latter part of the book are that the humor picks up slightly when Stella introduces a few Italian cops and agents, and that one example of Stella's sympathy for working men and women struck a chord with me even though my collar would be decidedly white if I didn't wear T-shirts or sweaters to work most days.

First, the humor, a special agent comparing traditional Italian mobsters and the new Russian crime gangs from which Mafiya takes its title:
"Of course the risks are real. Worse that can happen to me watching wise guys I get a gravy stain on my shirt. The redfellas will kill you to test a new gun they bought off the street."
The personal chord came in a scene of police interviewing an embittered ex-convict hard at work at one of his two jobs who faces the prospect of raising two children alone now that his hooker/escort wife has been murdered (she was hooking to earn the kids' private-school tuition.):
"I'm out just a few months and working here mostly. I also pump gas closer to where I live. For Indians, you can believe it.' 
"`It's a job,' Moss said. 
"`Yeah, so I shouldn't complain.'"
It's hard to miss the mockery and the bitter humor in that statement, the bitterness of a man told too many times that silence, humility, and gratitude that one is not even worse off are the proper responses to adversity.

© Peter Rozovsky 2013



Blogger Sean Patrick Reardon said...

I'm a big fan of CS. Mafiya is now on my TBR list

January 04, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

CS deserves many big fans. I'll be interested to read your verdict on "Mafiya." I've now read all Stella's books, and this one feels a little different. You'd probably guess it was by Charlie Stella even if his name was not on it, but there's less humor. It's like a favorite tune played in a minor key.

January 04, 2013  
Blogger R.T. said...

Peter, which CS title is the absolute must-read for the new CS reader?

Whatever you recommend, it will have to wait for a while because I am busy getting my mind on track for the beginning the new semester next week. God help the students, and God help me! (Ah, if only I could just retire!)

January 04, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

R.T., I'm an indulgent professor. I give mature and other non-traditional students all the time in the world to complete their assignments. Take all the time you need to read CS.

All Charlie Stella's books are highly enjoyable; you won't go wrong no matter where you start. But given that I've thought he's improved with each book, why not start with "Rough Riders," "Johnny Porno," or "Mafiya"?

January 04, 2013  

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