A Book Spy Review: ‘Gangster Nation’ by Tod Goldberg

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Sal Cupertine, a prominent Chicago-based hitman, has taken on the identity of a Las Vegas rabbi named David Cohen. And while hidden away with his new identity and surgically-altered face, Sal isn’t safe yet. Not by a long shot.

Set just a couple of years after Goldberg’s Gangsterland, Sal is a totally different man than when readers saw him last. Literally. His new face aside–he underwent plastic surgery to render him unrecognizable to those who knew him before he became David Cohen, though he has had complications stemming from the operation–Sal is living a totally new life since fleeing Chicago.

Leaving his wife and their son behind, Sal went on the run before putting down roots in Vegas. Having murdered three undercover FBI agents, Sal knew he’d have to look over his shoulder the rest of his life, but that doesn’t keep him from trying to come up with a plan to reunite with his family. In the meantime, Sal is forced to fake it until he makes it as a rabbi, offering up advice and wisdom to those in his synagogue. With practice, he’s surprisingly good at playing the part of a religious leader, and there are more than a few laugh-out-loud moments along the way.

When he’s not playing holier-than-thou during the day, Sal is busy laundering the synagogue’s money at night with the goal of accumulating enough cash to make a play for his wife and kid. He dreams of them one day starting over and having a new life, but all of that is threatened by FBI agent Marrhew Drew, who has his sights set on finding Sal and bringing him to justice.

Written with humor and the same type of dark, up-close-and-personal style of dialogue that Don Winslow is known for, Goldberg also mixes in some eyebrow-raising historical facts about how criminals (of all types, but especially gangsters) have shaped and changed America throughout the country’s history.

A touch better than its predecessor (Gangsterland), Goldberg’s latest novel is a bold and daring adventure that hits hard early on and never lets up. The story twists and turns its way to a surprising ending, setting things up nicely for the planned third and final book in the Sal Cupertine trilogy, The Death of a Gangster.

Book Details

Author: Tod Goldberg 
Series: Sal Cupertine #2
Pages: 368 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1619027232
Publisher: Counterpoint
Release Date: September 12, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 7/10
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