In this crime drama, Michael Pollitz must decide whether to protect the mobster who has protected him.
When Mike, a college student in 1972 Illinois, is arrested on drug charges, his father insists he use a public defender. His childhood friend’s father, Dom Calabria, head of the Outfit in Chicago, wants to help Mike by providing a first-rate lawyer, but Mike goes with his father’s wishes. The outcome is a plea bargain for a short stay in Astoria Adult Correctional Facility—but after he’s brutally beaten and raped by three inmates, Mike spends most of his sentence in the infirmary. He doesn’t give up his assailants’ names but threatens their lives right before he’s set to be released. When Mike is picked up by the head of the mob, people notice.
Flash forward to 1994, when Detective Larry Klinger begins investigating the murders of two former Astoria inmates who were violently killed shortly after being released. An informant—the third man who beat Mike—tells Klinger that the murders were committed by Calabria, the kingpin whom Klinger would like to see taken down. Klinger investigates, coming in contact with Mike, and the two form a friendship. When Klinger realizes that Mike will never give up Calabria, he begins to wonder whether it’s even worth investigating the murders of such evil men.
This review is part of John K. Manos’s book tour with TLC Book Tours. Find out more about the tour and all the stops here.
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I’m always curious about the underworld; who isn’t? It’s a great backdrop to create a mysterious, compelling, and engrossing story against. You have everything you need for a story when it involves the mafia, or mobsters, even if they are fictional. As soon as someone says The Mob, what do you expect?
I expect, as a fundamental part of a mobster story, dominate, cold-hearted, calculating characters surrounded by seedy opulence and ostentatious luxury. I expect loyalty and jealousy in equal measures. I expect a hapless victim being thrown in too deep and a subtle war for supremacy.
There was some of the above, but Dialogues of a Crime does focus more on varying levels of friendship, loyalty, and the shifting dynamics of those friendships when they span years. The crime itself was not the main intent of the story, as far as main plots go, but was more of a driving force to thrust individual characters together and display their personalities.
I thoroughly enjoyed the interaction between characters, especially Mike with Dom. I don’t see how many of the character scenes would have had the effect they did if Mike wasn’t the character he was. There was a sadness to him I could appreciate given the circumstances of his prison-stint, but also a credible wholesomeness at his core.
I loved how the story was told over years, with each part broken up into 1972, 1994, and 2003. It gave you a window into the character’s lives at important junctures without having to wade through their whole history.
I grew to love the characters, except for Larry Klinger and Dan Whittaker. Klinger annoyed me and Whittaker wasn’t exactly meant to be liked, at least that’s what my impression was. By the time I reached the part of 2003, I was very much into the story and was saddened by the ending. Of course it helps to lighten my mood now I’m going around the house saying forgetaboutit to my partner… The joys of reading an engrossing story.