Another foray into historical Crime Fiction for the Dorset Book Detective as I review The Trouble Boys, a novel which spans two decades and showcases the human side of organised crime.
The Trouble Boys centers around the Irish mob in New York City from the 1930s to the 1950s. The story opens in pre-WWII Europe when young Irish immigrant Colin O’Brien settles with his family in New York City.
Upon arrival Colin befriends a Cuban-American boy named Johnny Garcia. Life in America isn’t what Colin’s family expects and he experiences a shocking tragedy that alters his life. As Johnny and Colin grow into men, their friendship changes. They begin working for different crime syndicates, with Colin joining the ranks of charismatic Tom McPhalen’s Irish mob and Johnny becoming a member of debonair Tito Bernal’s Cuban gang.
As Colin’s rise in the ranks of organized crime becomes increasingly more brutal and demeaning and his friendship with Johnny deteriorates, he begins to question his place in the seductive yet violent world he’s found himself in.
At the end of the day, E. R. Fallon’s riveting thriller shows a familiar yet inventive version of a traditional tale; one of falling through the cracks of society into a mess of criminality that spirals to reveal the true grit of a character. Fallon’s characters hold up well under such close scrutiny, and the book as a whole is a great example of a nail-biting thriller with enough twists and human drama to sustain it through to the riveting conclusion.