Hesh Kestin - The Iron Will of Shoeshine Cats
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Mulholland Books
April 12, 2012
Hesh Kestin’s The Iron Will of Shoeshine Cats might well be one of the books of the year. Funny, dark, captivating and exhilarating, this is a novel which unquestionably underlines the strength that lies within the Mulholland stable and marks the imprint of Hodder & Stoughton as crime publishers who go that extra mile to deliver quality writing with a difference.
In Russell Newhouse, Kestin has created a skirt-chasing, culturally astute melting pot and delivers a narrator who is not only the eyes and ears of the story but also its living heart as his world and his life is irrevocably changed by the “bequest” left to him by Jewish mobster, Shoeshine Cats, after Newhouse does the gangster a small favour.
As to Shoeshine Cats and his henchmen – not least Ira’s Myra – here stands a mixture of Robin Hood and Tony Soprano that has been imbued with an overwhelming subtlety that manifests itself as an intellectual paradox that forces readers to want to know more and more on every page, whereas what we do know is rainbow bright and lustres like an early morning frost on the fields.
That there is twist upon twist upon twist is always a blessing but, not unlike George Pelecanos, Hesh Kestin has managed to nail the sense of time and place that is eponymous with American history so well, it is simple for readers to smell the smog, the fear and the ambivalence of the age whilst all the while wanting to delve deeper beneath the folds of New York and so embroil themselves in the counter-culture of the day.
When Stephen King says you can’t put a book down then it is well worth picking it up and with The Iron Will of Shoeshine Cats – a story of 1960’s gangsters that is so different and so beautifully crafted – such advice would be well taken.
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