When my publicist at Cumberland House Publishing sent my weekly publicity report, I saw that The Starker had been reviewed at Booklist Online, which consists of book reviews from the American Library Association. Jenn commented that it was a favorable writeup, so I checked it out for myself, liked what I saw, and obtained permission to reproduce it here.
Keefe limns the New York gangster who represents a major link between Monk Eastman’s seminal Jewish gang and Arnold Rothstein’s criminal enterprise that would eventually spawn, under Meyer Lansky, the Jewish contingent of Lucky Luciano’s crime cabal that dominated America’s underworld for decades. As such, the book is a valuable resource. It is also excellent reading that brings organized crime in the early twentieth century alive in detail and with a bit of humor. Jack Zelig was a gang leader only relatively briefly before he was assassinated to keep him from testifying against bookmaker Herman Rosenthal’s killers. Oh, really? Keefe argues that, rather than a straight gangland-witness killing, the hit was political, motivated by adversaries displeased by Zelig’s clout. Reviewing the case, Keefe exposes the seeming contradictions in the official version of Zelig’s demise and, for that matter, in Zelig’s life, since the gang leader had grown up in comfortable circumstances rather than grinding urban poverty like his peers in the rackets. As true-crime tome and organized crime history, this one’s a keeper.— Mike Tribby
Talk about a nice way to start the week! Thanks to Mary Frances Wilkens at Booklist Online for permission to reproduce the review here.