The Big Brokers by Irving Shulman
New York : The Dial Press, 1951. First Edition. Hardcover. 570 pages ; 21 cm. $3.50 dust jacket unclipped but has a lot of foxing to it. Fraying to head of spine. Previous ownership rubber stamped onto the flyleaf. No other markings within book. Square binding.
The Big Brokers
by IRVING SHULMAN
AUTHOR OF THE AMBOY DUKES and CRY TOUGH
THE BIG BROKERS is a realistic novel of the big business of crime, told in terms of human beings. Mr. Shulman traces the web of organized crime that stretches across the nation, through the lives of three young mobsters — Mitchell Wolf, Larry, and Bull. Graduates of the slum-school of petty larceny, violence, and mayhem, • these young men get their chance to rise in the hierarchy of crime when the fabulous Las Vegas Riviera is reopened and they are chosen to operate it.
They begin work under the direction of such successful practitioners as Itzik Yanowitz, busy consolidating his personal fortune and empire; Fat Dovel Apfelshpein, distributor of "juice," lover of good food, and mercurial vice-president of a finance company which fronts for a big bookmaking operation; Harry Freund, the picaresque Hollywood agent who doesn't want clients, and has a police dossier thicker than his fist; Joe Foggia, family man, good uncle, hoed enthusiast, and believer in the homely virtues, who is concerned with big political fixes and is currently troubled by the failure of certain politicians to open up a midwestern city in whose campaign he has invested eighty thousand dollars; and his brother-in-law, Cese Ribbeto.
The novel begins with the arrival at the Riviera of Larry, Mitch and Bull, the three young men chosen to restore this sick child to healthy life. After weeks of hard work and one essential but quite routine killing, the casino is reopened to trade. It flourishes, thanks to Larry's razor-edge business virtues, Mitch's charm and good looks, and Bull's inspired invention of Cherry, the succulent wax doll above the bar who rumbas on her back — but though they are voted a bonus by their Eastern masters, the boys are not happy, the Las Vegas life palls on them, and quarrels and rivalries break out. Larry turns more and more to the bottle, Bull to the abundant favors of the Riviera's chorus. Mitch, of course, has Joyce, ex-New York call girl, whose architecture eloquently proves that a straight line is not the most interesting distance between two points.
Then two things happen: a small-time politician double-crosses the Syndicate and a big-time muscleman tries to dig into the Riviera's profits. They quickly become dead. But this automatic and reasonable retribution touches off the long-gathering storm, and, in the person of Dovel Apfelshpein — food-loving, home-loving Fat Dovel — the Syndicate finds itself exposed to a tamper-proof district attorney's questions. It becomes apparent to Itzik Yanowitz that, to save himself, not only must poor Dovel go but over- ' lord Joe Foggia too. And for this most delicate chore, which is to have such unexpected consequences, he calls on Mitch. . . .
THE BIG BROKERS traces from center to periphery the web of organized crime that stretches across the nation, but it is not told in the terms of a report; it is, first of all, a novel. The sheer pace of the story, its ingenious and shocking climax, only emphasize Mr. Shulman's greatest achievement: these people — absurd and deadly and in-finitely shrewd and abysmally stupid — are alive. We understand them, and why they behave as they do.
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