Hard Case Crime 5/09: Casino Moon by Peter Blauner (#55)

55 - Casino Moon by Peter Blauner


For Anthony Russo, an Atlantic City mobster’s son, the chances of escaping a life of crime are slim. They hinge on his plan to back a washed-up boxer’s comeback bid, and that, in turn, hinges on winning the help of a sexy round card girl who’s gone toe-to-toe with the current champion—in the bedroom…

I actually read this back in May and wish I had written it up when my memory was more fresh.

Not that it’s forgettable–far from it. Casino Moon is excellent, and Peter Blauner is officially added to my long list of authors who warrant further reading.

The world of organized crime in Casino Moon is not glamorous. It’s populated by a bunch of two-bit thugs whose sense of their own importance is inflated and whose common sense is often nonexistent.  Casino Moon portrays a dying mob in a dying city, with everyone fighting over the few crumbs left.

It’s in this depressing environment that our protagonist Anthony Russo, who was born into the life but wants no part of it, is determined to make it.  Convinced that he is better than his surroundings and better than he has demonstrated so far, he embarks on an audacious plan that could either set him on a path to riches or put him in a shallow grave.

Atlantic City is to Blauner what L.A. is to James Ellroy (who blurbs the book).  It feels like Blauner knows the city as well as anyone and has captured its dark side brilliantly. Its inhabitants are believable, human, and fascinating. Despite being long by crime fiction standards (over 300 pages) this Moon never wanes. It’s a winner by a knockout.

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