Monday, January 2, 2012

Done: "Road to Purgatory" by Max Allan Collins

Done: Road to Purgatory by Max Allan Collins, 2004, 0060540273.

I couldn't get into this one. It did not grab me. I ordered the third novel in the series, a comic book novel again, and that arrived at work yesterday. I read some comments by Collins, maybe on his blog, that he really liked the illustrations in the first novel. Obviously, Collins and my preferred illustration styles do not match. I'll read the novel anyway.

Michael O'Sullivan was left orphaned at the end of Road to Perdition. He is adopted by an Italian family in DeKalb and his name changed to Satariano. Michael joins the service in 1939 (or so) and is in the Philippines fighting the Japanese. Michael is brave, Michael kills many Japs. Michael is wounded and loses an eye, Michael is evacuated off Luzon, Michael is awarded CMH.

Michael goes on war bond tour. Michael comes home to high school girlfriend in DeKalb. Michael bonks girl in back seat of Buick. Michael is a bit of a mess. He suffered under his father's care. He feels guilt about banging Filipino whores. He feels guilt for killing hundreds of Japs. He dumps the girlfriend and is hired by Elliott Ness to go undercover in the outfit. Michael is cool with going undercover. He wants revenge on Al Capone who arranged to have O'Sullivan senior killed.

Michael moves up in the mob and works for Frank Nitti. He murders a few goons in Indiana and is trusted. Michael sent to Capone's place in Florida as an advance security guy ahead of a visit by Nitti. Michael takes the opportunity for revenge. Bloodbath ensues. Capone is a syphilitic wreck. Michael distraught at his missed chance for revenge because Capone's mental state is that of a three year old.

Florida bloodbath mistaken as heroics by Michael to protect Capone. Michael is now a made man. Michael is the second man behind Nitti. Michael is a big deal. Michael is banging a madam and nightclub owner for the outfit. Michael is working for himself not Ness. Outfit power play ensues. Nitti is under pressure. Michael is told Nitti arranged his father's death. That makes sense. Nitti dies. Michael's whore girlfriend murdered (okay, she was the madam not the whore). Michael told by new boss how family is safe and he needs to get one. Michael goes back to DeKalb and proposes to old girlfriend. She knows his real business and will never ask about it.

1. Michael is a freaking mess. He is almost incapable of love. His strongest emotions are revenge and anger. His best work is violence. He has a fondness for his adoptive parents - who love him deeply - but cannot make a deeper emotional connection. Ha! I knew the kid was a mess from Perdition!
2. CMH awardees are everyone's favorite during the parades and speeches but they cannot get a hello a couple months later. Eastwood did a great job in pointing that out in Flags. Think of the Marine who was just awarded the CMH for action in Afghanistan and was getting slurred and sued by his freaking employer a few weeks ago.
3. As usual Collins mixes real characters into his fiction. When I was in middle school and high school my parents subscribed to the Chicago Tribune for me. I remember a long article that rehashed Nitti's suicide along the train tracks with a .32. I remember - do not know if I am right - that Nitti shot himself 2-3 times with the .32.
4. You know likes .32 revolvers? Parker.
5. 1911 love.
6. Period car love.
7. It seems like every novel I read lately has prostitutes. Every novel I read is a crime novel. Go figure.
8. We have a memoir here, Guerrilla Daughter, by a lady who was a girl during the war whose father and brothers fought as guerrillas in the Philippines against the Japanese. I really should get around to reading that. It has only checked out three times.

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