Button Man by Andrew Gross

In turn of the century New York City, ten blocks separated two worlds. Rich. Poor. Privileged. Insignificant. To live below Houston in the Lower East Side usually meant you were Irish, Italian, or Jewish, an immigrant who had few options for advancement. Morris Rabishevsky and his five siblings grow up with their share of heartache; their brother is killed and their father passes away before they are past their youth. Morris is forced to find work at twelve to help support the family. The garment industry finds him or he finds the garment industry, who knows which, but it starts a contentious relationship that lasts a lifetime.

Morris and his brother Sol eventually become partners in a new operation and their accounts for new stylish coats are booming even in the depths of the depression. But the unions, infiltrated by the mob, come knocking. Morris is forced to make a decision: help the law bust the gangsters, become a union/ mob shop, or fight.

Andrew Gross’s Button Man is the fictionalized story of Gross’s grandfather’s life. It is the details of the city, the shakedowns of the wise guys, and the understanding of family. Although Morris’s story is always enjoyable and interesting, there is great strength in the shifting points of view. The special task force put together by Thomas Dewey. The hit squad to sever the reach of one mob family. The younger brother who has lost his way. Gross has a great talent of presenting a time, a place, and the people who live in those confines.

Morris is a fighter. Working in the business since he was twelve and starting out on his own. Who will help him? His family, his friends, or only himself? The reader is in the dark until the fantastic ending. One I will not forget for a very long time.

4.5 out of 5 stars

Releases on September 18th.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books, NetGalley, and Andrew Gross for the advanced copy for review.

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