If this book sounds like an episode of "The Sopranos," it's because Nick Santora was a writer on that show. The wiseguys, the Italian families, life in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York City -- they're all in Santora's debut novel. Not surprisingly, the dialogue sings.
Bobby Principe's family, especially his father, scrimped and did without to allow Bobby to attend Columbia Law School. A smart guy with high principles, modeled after his father, Bobby was proud to turn aside offers from major NYC law firms to hang his shingle out in his old neighborhood. His wife, Janine, and his secretary, Joey, are proud to be associated with him. You can't get any higher than this -- which is why the fall, when it comes, is excruciatingly long and sorrowful.
SPOILER ALERT -- there's no reason, really, to label this a spoiler, except if you want to read the book and receive no hint of what is to come, stop here. If you think you're reading a warm-hearted book about a neighborhood lawyer, find another book.
As every new attorney out on his or her own knows, cases don't just fall like manna and troubles don't melt like lemon drops. After a few years of struggling, Bobby is in full-fledged despair. He owes for the mortgage, office equipment, malpractice insurance, taxes, and then Janine tells him -- he's going to be a father. Straight-arrow Bobby, not-going-down-that-sneaky-road Bobby, I'm-going-to-make-my-father-proud Bobby makes a deal with the devil, aka Big Lou Turro, the neighborhood mobster. Negotiated by his psycho cousin, Jackie, Bobby comes up with a clever scheme to defraud insurance companies.
This is a book begging to be made into a movie. The dialogue is wonderful. Santora's description of Bobby's inner turmoil is two-hankies worthy. Crazy Jackie, saintly Janine, feisty Joey, loyal Roland, whiny Ginny are great characters.
Goodness costs but crime costs more.
Kudos to Mulholland Press for re-issuing this 2007 book.