The folks here at the site have always had a passion for organized crime… the history of organized crime, that is. The interesting personal stories of those “legitimate businessmen” and “friends of ours” has been a subject we’ve been wanting to discuss in greater detail. Thankfully there’s been an influx of various works on the subject, and we’re excited to begin sharing them with you today. Our story for this installment is a blend of fact, fiction, and personal anecdote that mixes a unique perspective into an unusual way to tell a story. We’re spanning multiple decades and continents for this one, so make sure your passport is booked and your violin case is as inconspicuous as possible, it’s the TehBen Book Club, wiseguy!
A Father’s Son by David Breakspear can best be described as a bit of a mashup of sorts. “Historical Fiction” is probably the most accurate description of genre, however the author uses a great deal of real world facts to help illustrate the short story. In the same way a nest encases an egg, a retelling of relevant organized crime history from Chicago and London keeps the fictional accounts safely in its embrace. This will eventually work well once you get used to the format, but for the front section of the text, it borderlines on being information overload. The first character that I found special attention for is a young woman named Chloe. After giving birth just before her 16th birthday in 1950s Chicago, Chloe seems a touch oblivious to not only the intensity of the criminal family she’s involved with, but of the pure danger of her situation. Being looked after by the legendary Charlie Richardson or, “Uncle Charlie” to Chloe and her baby-daddy Gio, the heat of the mafia eventually puts her and her young son in danger. With Chicago crumbling, it’s time to send Chloe and her son Troy to London for a fresh start. Can all the moving parts of this unique transatlantic mafia family stay profitable and more importantly… stay out of trouble?
While the story blends unique crime flavors from both Chicago as well as the United Kingdom, the depth of the progression comes from the fast-moving timeline. Things hit their stride in the 1960’s, as the fictionalized elements fit perfectly with the drug culture of the swinging times in one of the world’s most swinging cities. Drugs are in no way championed by this story. In fact, the darkest moment of the proceedings involve the evils of drugs and their purveyors. As the main characters encounter their individual tragedies, the author’s own personal experiences come to light. Saving most of the details, however one of the key characters does some hard time in prison. The author is self described as a reformed man, and his personal experience in this regard develops the strongest part of the book. It’s not a novel about prison culture, but the elements that engage this concept feel the strongest. Consequently it’s where the story can be described as “maximum British” in dialogue and concept, and that was a welcome addition with its unique and intimate detail.
Verdict: A Father’s Son by David Breakspear is a hybrid short story of organized crime that provides a fresh vessel for the real life anecdotes and stylizations of mafia characters spanning a handful of decades. While this reader enjoyed the fictionalized characters over the presented facts, it was a good approach to background that allows the novella to punch off the page effectively. Different readers are going to find different characters to identify with, and their motivations are both believable and emotional. The story has a complete beginning, middle, and end, and the author’s personal touch made this experience feel a little more genuine. I look forward to seeing this author develop beyond their initial work, as this first impression was quite a gripping introduction.
Special thanks to David Breakspear and to Wayne Clingman for providing a copy of A Father’s Son to TehBen.com for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Author’s Twitter: @Areformedman
Purchase Link: Amazon