"No one can be lonely who has a book for company." ~ Nelle Reagan

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Dialogues of a Crime by John Manos - book review

Dialogues of a Crime
Author:  John Manos
Published:  July 2013
Publisher:  Amika Press
Pages: 300
Source:  A complimentary advance reader's copy was provided for the purpose of this review.  Receipt thereof bore no influence over this reviewers opinion nor this review.

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.
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My Thoughts:
How deep does loyalty lie?  Dialogues of a Crime is a story about a young college student, Michael, who in 1972 gets arrested as an accessory to the sale of drugs.  It gets worse for Michael as his father refuses to allow Michael to accept the help of his best friend's father who is in the mafia.  Unfortunately, Michael goes to a medium security prison where he is assaulted and emotionally scarred for life.  It's not unheard of in prisons but it certainly isn't pleasant reading.

Years later an investigation into the mafia, particularly into Michael's best friend's father and his particular "ring," brings the now advertising executive back in contact with the police. Friendship, relationships, loyalty and revenge are the strong themes in Dialogues of a Crime. In exploring the past that Michael would rather forget, the ties of relationships are explored. The dialogues in this novel reveal emotions, hurt, and loyalty and are well-written.  It is through these dialogues the reader really comes to understand Michael.  He really experienced the worst one can imagine a fellow human being can endure and the reader is sure to side with him, regardless of justice, however defined.

Dialogues of a Crime makes you question your ideas on justice.  While I didn't enjoy the prison experience, I did find the investigation of the mafia interesting.  I enjoy crime dramas, for the "whodunit" aspect and love a good mystery, which is why I decided to read Dialogues of a Crime.  It's not quite what I expected in that comparison but if you enjoy investigations of the legal system and justice with a main focus on the mafia, you will find Dialogues of a Crime an interesting novel and, like me, you will likely be pulling for Michael, the law be damned.

John K. Manos was a magazine editor in Chicago for 20 years. Since 2001 he has earned his living as a writer, editor, and occasional musician. He is a graduate of Knox College. Dialogues of a Crime is his first novel.

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