#BlogTour | #BookReview: Cuban Heel by Leopold Borstinski (@borstinski) #CubanHeel #AlexCohenSeries #damppebbles

“Would you work with the devil to build a paradise on Earth?

Jewish gangster, Alex Cohen joins long-time friend and business partner, Meyer Lansky to recreate Las Vegas in 1950s Havana. When dictator President Batista gives them the opportunity to build their dream casino complexes, Alex must choose between dancing with this devil or being in debt to the Italian mob.

If he takes the mafia money then he will be tied to the men who planned his earlier downfall and removed his mentor, Lucky Luciano from the syndicate. If he refuses their investment then he will be beholden to the tinpot generalissimo and his bloated ego. But Alex knows that there is more at stake than mere gelt–now he has his family surrounding him and they will suffer the ultimate price if he makes a bad decision.

The fifth book in the Alex Cohen series is an historical thriller novel, which tears at the heart of the Jewish mob’s role in pre-revolution Cuba. Leopold Borstinski’s piercing crime fiction gives each reader the shocking skinny into the building of modern America.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of Cuban Heel by Leopold Borstinski as part of the blog tour. Cuban Heel was published in paperback and digital formats by Sobriety Press on 3rd April 2021. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Cuban Heel but that has in no way influenced my review.

Cuban Heel is the fifth book in the author’s Alex Cohen Series and if you’re a fan of historical crime or mob fiction then these books are a must read! Each book (starting with The Bowery Slugger) covers a decade of Cohen’s life from his teenage years on the mean streets of the Bowery to Cuban Heel, the latest release, which sees Cohen move to Cuba to make his mark in the 1950s. There are a further two books planned in the series and I, for one, cannot wait to read them.

Cohen and pal, Meyer Lansky, have moved to Cuba to continue to build on their Las Vegas success and make Havana their own tropical paradise. Lansky has been cultivating a relationship with Fulgencio Batista so when the dictator overthrows the existing president in a coup, and takes control of the island, Lansky is able to pull the right strings to ensure everything falls into the correct place. Over the years, Lansky and Cohen build a formidable empire of casinos and entertainment venues for the rich and famous to throw their money away in. But with increasing and ever present political unrest, Cohen must keep his interests, and most importantly, his family safe, to ensure the gelt keeps rolling in. With added pressure from the Italian commission and frequent talk of the Castro brother’s uprising, Alex Cohen will have to fight to save what’s important to him…

I love the Alex Cohen series. Cuban Heel is a great addition to a fascinating and immersive series which I will be sad to see come to an end. The author cleverly takes real events and historical figures and mixes them up with his own fictional characters to great effect. The reader really shouldn’t really like Alex Cohen. He’s a violent and aggressive man who will snuff out a life if it benefits him or he’s been instructed to do so. There’s just something about him though that is, gosh, endearing…? Can a merciless killer be endearing? I think that’s part of the appeal of this series. I have read every single book so far and I’ve been with Cohen every step of the blood-soaked way, yet I somehow feel a fondness towards him. Which is testament to the author’s brilliant writing. I am 100% invested in this series.

I will confess that my knowledge of this time in history is a little patchy. However, I am a lot more clued up since reading Cuban Heel. In fact, I don’t think I’ve read a single Alex Cohen book and not at some point Googled the real-life characters or events to find out more. Not only does Borstinski provide his readers with a fascinating, page-turner of a story but I always come away from one of his books feeling I have a deeper understanding of that period in history.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Cuban Heel is a great addition to the Alex Cohen Series. I do feel you could read it as a standalone but when there are four brilliant books before this one, why not indulge a little and get hold of the entire series. I loved that Cohen has become a reformed family man reuniting with his ex-wife, Sarah, and two of their sons, David and Moishe, along with Alex’s estranged sister, Esther. The book has a very strong sense of family which we haven’t seen from Cohen before. It was great to see his protective, softer side. As you would expect from a book about gangsters, there is violence but I thought it was toned down a little this time (compared to the earlier books). It’s official, I’m an Alex Cohen fan! I can’t wait to see where the 1960s take Alex. Be assured, wherever it is, I’ll be along for the ride! Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free eARC of Cuban Heel. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Cuban Heel by Leopold Borstinski was published in the UK by Sobriety Press on 3rd April 2021 and is available in paperback and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesamazon.com |

Leopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.

There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.

He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook | Website |

#BookReview: Casino Chiseler (Alex Cohen #4) by Leopold Borstinski (@borstinski) #CasinoChiseler #AlexCohenSeries #damppebbles

4 Casino Chiseler High Res 1940“Would you gamble everything you possess to win more than you can imagine?

Jewish gangster, Alex Cohen leaves jail to find salvation from the 1940s mob in the hotels of Las Vegas. When Bugsy Siegel invites him to take over sports betting in Nevada, Alex must figure out how to get back to the top table in New York without attracting the Feds’ attention.

If he succeeds then he will regain his self respect, but if he fails then the last members of the national crime syndicate will cut him dead and he will be left a nobody or wind up a corpse. And after he bumps into his childhood sweetheart, he has a once in a lifetime opportunity to win her heart. But Alex knows the criminal underworld has the habit of spilling over into his personal life and when Meyer Lansky asks him to murder Siegel, Alex must choose what is truly important to him.

The fourth book in the Alex Cohen series is an historical thriller novel, which rips open the Jewish mob’s involvement in the birth of modern Vegas. Leopold Borstinski’s shattering crime fiction deals a royal flush to each reader.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of Casino Chiseler which is the fourth book in the Alex Cohen Series by Leopold Borstinski. Casino Chiseler was published on 30th September 2020 and is available in paperback and digital formats. I chose to read and review an eARC of Casino Chiseler but that has in no way influenced my review.

My favourite gangster is back but this time he’s moved halfway across the country to make his fortune in Las Vegas, baby! Having had the syndicate turn their backs on him, it’s time for Alex Cohen to up-sticks and make his name elsewhere. This is another super addition to a very readable series and I really enjoyed it.

Alex Cohen’s connection to the powerful syndicate who always had his back has been severed. Following a short stint in Sing Sing, he leaves jail with only a fraction of his fortune and very few friends. But that’s not going to keep a man like Alex down, no siree! When Benny ‘Bugsy’ Siegel invites Cohen to Las Vegas and offers him the chance to have a hand in a new sports betting wire, Cohen sees it as the perfect opportunity to regain some respect from the syndicate and work his way back to the top. But Cohen is playing a deadly game and you can bet that someone is going to get hurt…

This is the fourth book in the author’s Alex Cohen Series of historical thrillers and it’s wonderful blend of fact and fiction really pulls the reader into the story. I adore Las Vegas, so for me, reading a part-fictional/part-fact account of modern Vegas’ early days was fascinating. I even ended up Googling a couple of things to see how the book compared to what actually happened.

Once again, and as with all previous books in this series, there’s a lot to squeeze in (the reader gets to see Cohen’s life over the course of 10 years) so it’s pretty non-stop action from the start. I think you could read Casino Chiseler as a standalone but it’s worth investing in the series and seeing Cohen grow from the moment he lands on the shores of New York as a teen. Past events are often referred to, so to understand the history between the characters fully, I would suggest starting with The Bowery Slugger. And on that note, it was wonderful to see Rebecca – his teenage crush – return to Cohen’s life. But oh boy, has she changed!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. If you’re a fan of historical thrillers and you can stomach a little spilt blood (they’re gangsters, it goes with the territory!) then I recommend Casino Chiseler and the other books in the Alex Cohen Series. They’re gritty but full of heart too. Despite being a pretty terrible human being and killing frequently without remorse, you can’t help but like Alex and become invested in his journey. I will say, the ending came a little out of the blue for me. It was a sudden change of direction which threw me a little. I look forward to reading book five – Cuban Heel – soon and seeing where the author takes things. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free eARC of Casino Chiseler. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Casino Chiseler by Leopold Borstinski was published in the UK by Sobriety Press on 30th September 2020 and is available in paperback and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about-the-author3

FullSizeRenderLeopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.

There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.

He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook | Website |

#BookReview: Midtown Huckster by Leopold Borstinski @borstinski #MidtownHuckster #AlexCohenSeries #20booksofsummer20 #damppebbles

3 Midtown Huckster High Res 1930“Can you keep your gelt and freedom when the cops have enough evidence to take you down?

1930s Jewish gangster, Alex Cohen runs Murder Inc for Lucky Luciano. After the death of Prohibition he must find a new way to make money, just as the cops are baying at his heels. When Luciano goes down for racketeering, Alex loses his protection and is arrested for tax evasion-he must decide between saving his skin and ratting out his friends.

If he chooses prison time then his gang will fall apart and he will end up with nothing. If he squeals then he will have to flee the city he loves and the family he once adored. What would you do in a world where nobody can be trusted and you have everything to lose?

The third book in the Alex Cohen series is an historical noir novel, which plunges you deep into the early days of narcotics trafficking and the Jewish New York mob. Leopold Borstinski’s piercing crime fiction delivers a fix to every reader like heroin from a needle.”

Hello and welcome bookish friend to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my eleventh 20 Books of Summer review with you, which is for Midtown Huckster by Leopold Borstinski. Midtown Huckster is the third book in the Alex Cohen Series and was published in paperback and digital formats on 16th July 2020. I received a free eARC of Midtown Huckster but that has in no way influenced my review.

Jewish gangster and thug, Alex Cohen, is back! And he’s bigger and badder than ever. He’s a killing machine and the reader really shouldn’t like him….but it’s hard not to. I thoroughly enjoyed Midtown Huckster which focuses on Cohen’s life in 1930s New York. The end of prohibition, the end of his marriage to Sarah and the end of….well, I won’t spoil it for you. I think this is my favourite book in the series so far!

The end of prohibition is nigh and Alex and his men need to find a new way to make sure they continue to live in the lifestyle they’ve become accustomed to. No one will be looking for watered down, bootlegged hooch when the real thing will be readily available again. A new money-spinning idea is needed to keep them rolling in gelt. But that’s not all Alex should be worrying about. There’s a new Special Prosecutor in town – Thomas Dewey – and he’s out to clean up the mean streets of New York and has Alex and his colleagues in his sights. Will Alex manage to see out the 1930s a free man or is this the end of Slugger…?

Eminently readable, utterly compelling and as I think I said, my favourite book of the series so far. I absolutely devoured Midtown Huckster. This series is something very special with its mix of fact and fiction. Notorious names from history you’ll definitely recognise rubbing shoulders alongside wonderfully written, standout creations. I adore Alex Cohen and his dark edge. But he has a conscience, which the reader gets to see him battling with as the prospect of dealing heroin is put upon the table.

The plot moves quickly as it does in all three of these books. Each novel tends to cover a decade so the author has a lot to fit in. Scenes do jump quickly but I really enjoy that as it keeps the pace fresh – never a dull moment with Cohen around. Being a gangster novel, there is violence but it fits with the period and the setting. It’s all in keeping with what you would expect.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I would recommend all three novels in the Alex Cohen series. They can be read as standalone novels but why would you when you can start at the very beginning and follow Alex on his journey as he steps off the boat from the Ukraine. They’re gritty, compelling books which deserve a wider readership. Hard-hitting crime noir with a likeable lead, this entire series is something quite special.

| The Bowery Slugger | East Side Hustler |

I chose to read and review an eARC of Midtown Huckster. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Midtown Huckster by Leopold Borstinski was published in the UK by Sobriety Press on 16th July 2020 and is available in paperback and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Google Books | Goodreads |

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about-the-author3

FullSizeRenderLeopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.

There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.

He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook | Website |

#CoverReveal: Midtown Huckster (Alex Cohen #3) by Leopold Borstinski @borstinski #MidtownHuckster #AlexCohenSeries #damppebbles

Hello my bookish friends. I hope you’re keeping well at this strange time. I have a brilliant cover reveal for you today and it’s for a series I LOVE! I am delighted to be sharing the cover of MIDTOWN HUCKSTER with you, which is book three in the fantastic Alex Cohen Series written by Leopold Borstinski. I have read and enjoyed the first two books – The Bowery Slugger and East Side Hustler – so cannot wait to get my mitts on MIDTOWN HUCKSTER.

Before I reveal the gorgeous cover (which fits perfectly with the first two books in the series), here’s the blurb:

Can you keep your gelt and freedom when the cops have enough evidence to take you down?

1930s Jewish gangster, Alex Cohen runs Murder Inc for Lucky Luciano. After the death of Prohibition he must find a new way to make money, just as the cops are baying at his heels. When Luciano goes down for racketeering, Alex loses his protection and is arrested for tax evasion-he must decide between saving his skin and ratting out his friends.

If he chooses prison time then his gang will fall apart and he will end up with nothing. If he squeals then he will have to flee the city he loves and the family he once adored. What would you do in a world where nobody can be trusted and you have everything to lose?

The third book in the Alex Cohen series is an historical noir novel, which plunges you deep into the early days of narcotics trafficking and the Jewish New York mob. Leopold Borstinski’s piercing crime fiction delivers a fix to every reader like heroin from a needle.

I cannot wait to travel to 1930s New York with Alex and find out what dastardly deeds he and his gang are getting up to. If you’re new to the Alex Cohen Series then each book covers a decade in Alex’s life, starting with his landing on the shores of America in The Bowery Slugger. They’re well worth a read and I highly recommend them.

So let’s have a look at that cover…

3 Midtown Huckster High Res 1930

I love it! Look how fantastic the three covers look together 😍

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MIDTOWN HUCKSTER will be published by Sobriety Press on 16th July 2020. Pre-order your copy of the book NOW (please note, the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.com |

about-the-author3

FullSizeRenderLeopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.

There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.

He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook | Website |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: East Side Hustler by Leopold Borstinski (@borstinski) #EastSideHustler #AlexCohenSeries #damppebbles

Image“Alex lived through the war, but will he survive the peace?

Jewish gang member, Alex comes back from the Great War almost destroyed by the horrors he has seen. When he is plucked from certain death by an old friend, he commits to making so much money he’ll never know that agony again.

But the route to the top is fraught with danger and every time he helps one of his powerful friends like Al Capone, he acquires more enemies who want to see him dead. When organised crime financier, Arnold Rothstein dies, the turmoil caused by his loss sets in train a chain of events which means Alex must once more fight for his life. How far would you go to attain your American dream?

The second book in the Alex Cohen series is a violent historical novel, which tears through the Prohibition years of the Jewish New York mob. Leopold Borstinski’s gripping crime noir pierces the heart of every reader like a bullet from Alex’s sniper rifle.”

Hello and welcome to the blog. I am delighted to be sharing my review of East Side Hustler as part of the blog tour today. East Side Hustler is the second book in the Alex Cohen Series written by Leopold Borstinski. I read and reviewed the first book, The Bowery Slugger, last year and thoroughly enjoyed it so I was really looking forward to this one. I received a free eARC of East Side Hustler but that has in no way influenced my review.

We were last with Alex Cohen as he leapt onto a train destined for the trenches of the Great War. East Side Hustler begins in 1919 with Alex’s return to New York but he’s a shadow of the man he was. Traumatised by the sights and smells of war, he finds himself desolate and alone. Having once run the streets which he now sleeps on, it’s a dramatic fall from grace for the man they used to refer to as ‘Slugger’. His family believe him to be dead. He has no one. That is until a familiar face finds him and offers shelter. A warm bed, food on the table and the warm embrace of Sarah, a friend and lover from the past. Alex’s strength builds, he discovers his reputation is unblemished and his determination to live the American dream reignites. And Alex will do that anyway he can, no matter who stands in his way…

East Side Hustler spans the years from 1919 to 1929 and Alex’s return to the mean streets of New York. It’s difficult to not like Alex. He’s ruthless, menacing and a pretty terrible human being but there’s also something about him that appeals to the reader. In The Bowery Slugger Alex was a teenager on the up. You couldn’t help but admire his gumption and his desire to make something of himself. He’s older now and affected by war, but the character readers fell in love with is still very much present.

So much happens in East Side Hustler that it’s hard to summarise the book for this review. After all, East Side Hustler spans a ten-year period in Alex’s life. There’s a lot going on so the reader is quickly absorbed into the story and into the dark underbelly of New York in the 1920s. The main point to mention is the introduction of prohibition which saw the manufacture and sale of alcohol stopped by law. Alex and his ‘colleagues’ quickly discover a way of smuggling alcohol into New York from Canada via Chicago. Risking life and limb in the process, it makes for gripping reading and provides a fair amount of spilt blood. The inclusion of some familiar names, such as Al Capone and Bugs Moran, bring a dash of realism to the story.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. East Side Hustler can be read as a standalone but it’s worth picking up a copy of The Bowery Slugger too, as you get to discover where Alex Cohen has come from and what drives him. This series is a gritty look at life on the streets of New York. A no-holds-barred historical noir novel with a lead character that you shouldn’t like, but you won’t be able to help yourself. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series and seeing what Bostinski has in store for Alex next.

I chose to read and review an eARC of East Side Hustler. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

East Side Hustler by Leopold Borstinski was published in the UK by Sobriety Press on 22nd March 2020 and is available in paperback and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comGoogle BooksKoboGoodreads |

East Side Hustler banner

about-the-author3

FullSizeRenderLeopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.

There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.

He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook | Website |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Bowery Slugger by Leopold Borstinski (@borstinski) #TheBowerySlugger #AlexCohenSeries #damppebbles

1 Bowery Slugger Hi Res 1910A turn-of-the-century Jewish boy punches his way into the gangs of New York.

When Alex Cohen arrives in 1915 America, he seizes the land of opportunity with both hands and grabs it by the throat. But success breeds distrust and Alex must choose between controlling his gang and keeping his friend alive. What would you do if the person you trusted most is setting you up to die at your enemies’ hands?

The first book in the Alex Cohen series is a violent historical novel, which rips through the early years of the Jewish New York mob. Leopold Borstinski’s gripping crime noir beats at the chest of every reader with a bloody fist.”

A very warm welcome to damppebbles today and to my stop on The Bowery Slugger blog tour. The Bowery Slugger is the first book in the Alex Cohen series by Leopold Borstinski and was published on 10th November 2019 by Sobriety Press. I received a free eARC of The Bowery Slugger but that has in no way influenced my review.

I occasionally indulge in a little historical crime fiction. Not often enough though, not as frequently as I would like. Which was why I was so excited to make a start on The Bowery Slugger. Set in the 1910s, The Bowery Slugger is the first book in Borstinski’s Alex Cohen series. Teenage Alex has recently landed on the shores of America after a long and arduous sea crossing from his native Ukraine. Quickly discovering the streets of America aren’t paved with gold, Alex realises that providing for his family is his responsibility. Using skills he acquired at home he falls in with the gangs of the Bowery and soon makes a name for himself…

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Bowery Slugger. With its violent opening, I was hooked from the first page and sucked into Alex’s world. The author’s vivid descriptions made it easy for this reader to be whisked back in time to the Bowery in the 1910s, and I loved it! When I wasn’t reading this book, I was thinking about it and keen to return to Alex’s gritty, violent world.

I really liked Alex, but I often tend to prefer the darker characters in the books I read. I was expecting there to be more violence in this book than there actually is but I wasn’t disappointed. Alex’s lifestyle draws him into some tricky situations and he reacts, for him, accordingly. None of the violence in this book is over the top or gratuitous and it fits perfectly into the story.

Alex’s flirtation with his neighbour, Rebecca, was a great sub-plot which softened Alex’s edges a little. I was surprisingly entranced by their ‘will they/won’t they’ relationship as I’m not a fan of romance in the books I read. But it added another layer to Alex Cohen which I enjoyed.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. This a great start to what promises to be a brilliant new historical crime series and I cannot wait to read the next book in the series. The ending of The Bowery Slugger came maybe a little too quickly, but I can see exactly why the author ended the novel that way and how it will lead into the second book. Gritty, compelling and oh so good! Highly recommended.

I chose to read and review an eARC of The Bowery Slugger. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Bowery Slugger by Leopold Borstinski was published in the UK by Sobriety Press on 10th November 2019 and is available in paperback and ebook formats | amazon.co.ukamazon.comNookGoodreads |

The Bowery Slugger banner.png

about-the-author3

FullSizeRenderLeopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.

There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.

He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook | Website |

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: The Lagotti Family Series by Leopold Borstinski (@borstinski) @cobaltdinosaur #TheLagottiFamily #damppebbles

Boxset 3D.jpgTwo generations and four decades in the lives of Frank, Mary Lou and the rest of the gang

The Heist: After leaving Baltimore Penitentiary, Frank’s get rich quick scheme to rob a bank requires his girlfriend, Mary Lou to sleep with an inside guy and for his gang to stay together long enough to take down the vault. Meanwhile Mary Lou falls for the inside man and can’t decide whether to go with him or Frank. If she chooses the wrong fella she’ll be penniless and wind up dead. How would you choose between a fool and a dreamer?

The Getaway: After ex-con Frank and his girlfriend Mary Lou rob a Baltimore Bank, they must flee across country before the Feds find them and the mob ices them for stealing from an organized crime boss. As they dash to California, trust becomes the most important currency as Frank and Mary Lou grapple to decide whether love is enough to keep them together. And by the time they reach their goal, they must fight to the death to survive hired guns and trained police shooters. If they don’t kill everyone in their way then they will die themselves. Would you risk everything for a sack of greenbacks?

Powder: When Mary Lou takes the proceeds from a bank robbery to start up her heroin dealing business, old enemies circle overhead and threaten the lives of her twins. How will she keep them safe in such a dangerous place and what is she prepared to do to secure her new venture?

Mama’s Gone: When Mary Lou makes some bad decisions, her twins and her husband must decide whether she’s losing her mind. If they can get that cleared up then all they have to worry about is their feud with the Russian mob. And then someone goes and ices the old lady. Who would have the cajones to murder the head of the Lagotti family?”

Happy Friday and welcome to damppebbles. Ryan the guest reviewer here. Emma has let me take over with a review of Leopold Bortstinki’s book as she is looking through all of your lovely R3COMM3N3D2019 suggestions after her post yesterday (she’s also spent a lot of time adding books to her ‘Terrifying TBR’).  So whilst I am here, I thought I would share my review of The Heist. Without further ado, here’s what I thought…..

The Heist by Leopold Borstinski is the first book in The Lagotti Family Series Box Set. Now those of you with a keen memory will remember that earlier this year I reviewed Mama’s Gone, the fourth and final book in the series.  This blog tour offered me the chance for some reader ‘time travel’ and an opportunity to learn more about Frank and Mary Lou’s back story.

It is almost unfair to call Frank and Mary Lou the main characters as this book revolves around a small number of characters who are working to make Frank’s bank robbery a success.  Andrew and Brian represent the hired muscle and Pete, the getaway driver, completes the gang.  The story follows the planning of the job and the reader watches as tensions develop, scores are settled and each character works out how to get the best deal for themselves.  The deceit, plotting and characterisation in this novel are great as you soon realise that not everyone is going to get their way. And some characters are willing to spill a lot of blood to get a few extra dollars.

Outside the plotting is Mary Lou’s growing relationship with the inside man she is seducing to get information on the bank.   As time moves on you start to wonder who’s side she is on; is it Frank’s, Carter’s – the inside man, or just her own!  It has to be said there is a lot of carnal activity in this book and if that is something that you don’t enjoy then I would suggest you read something else.

My favourite aspect of this book was the slow burn. The planning isn’t over in a few days, it takes a lot longer.  Time for emotions to surface, characters to get hurt, plan their revenge and make whatever alliances are required.   In the background is the insidious Frank Snr, a character straight out of the grittiest noir novel, and a gritty noir novel is really what Borstinski has created here.  A novel which sets the platform for the rest of the box set.

So if you want strong characters, gritty noir and a sense of foreboding this is a good place to start. The Lagotti Family Series Box Set is going to show you a lot of twists and turns and probably a lot of blood before you put it down.  But beware, if you enjoyed this you will be straight into The Getaway – book two of this box set, as some plot lines are deliberately left dangling to entice you onwards. Follow them and watch a mob start from a bank job and develop through to an empire.  What are you waiting for?

I chose to read and review a free digital copy of The Heist. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Lagotti Family Series box set was published in the UK by Sobriety Press on 30th June 2019 and is available in paperback and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook DepositoryGoodreads |

The Lagotti Family Series banner v2.png

about-the-author3

FullSizeRenderLeopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.

There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.

He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Mama’s Gone by Leopold Borstinski @borstinski @cobaltdinosaur #GuestReview #MamasGone #TheLagottiFamily

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“When children grow up, the parents must die

California gang leader Mary Lou has built a criminal empire while her adult children are desperate for their mother’s attention and love.

As her mental faculties wane, Alice and Frank Jr must acknowledge their mother is not the woman she once was and that they need to step up and take the helm, despite the stark differences between them.

But their sibling rivalry blinds both of them to their weaknesses which threatens the family when the Russian mob moves into the state. How can they fend off those attacks while fighting to decide who will lead the family now their dear Mama’s gone?”

Hello my bookish friends. I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today to my guest reviewer’s stop on the Mama’s Gone blog tour. Mama’s Gone by Leopold Borstinksi is the fourth book in The Lagotti Family series and was published earlier this week on 18th March 2019. I’ll hand straight over to my guest reviewer, Ryan (or ‘the husband!’).

Starting a post on damppebbles is always tricky. It’s a great blog [Emma: You have to say that!] and I always worry whether my review is going to get it a bad reputation? But after reading Mama’s Gone, a mob crime thriller, I’m not so worried! I’m considering up and leaving damppebbles, setting up my own blog, making some money out of the marks and building my own blogging mob empire.

Mama’s Gone by Leopold Borstinski is effectively the fourth book in the Lagotti Family series. However, having read it, I would not have known this. It reads well as a standalone with plenty of back story and character history. The book moves at a rapid pace, starting with a shooting before bringing out what has gone before. The four main characters are each clearly cast; hard working Alice, lazy Mama’s boy Frank, reliable Bobby and of course Mama. Mama runs a traditional mob; drugs, prostitution and gambling but with two children growing up as rivals to be the successor and Russian mobs moving in, what will happen? Will the traditional mob be victorious as it has been so many times in the past or is a new dawn coming?

I must admit by the end of the book I didn’t really like any of the characters. Normally I like a good anti-hero but the author does a great job of showing the multiple flaws of each character. Too much loyalty in one, a ruthless streak for succeeding in another and what some would call a pathological streak in yet another. The book cleverly draws the story forward quickly with each small battle a character faces adding to the story. As we near the crescendo the characters not only have to fight with the outside world but also inside the family as Mama slowly loses her grip on the helm of the family organisation.

I have to say I liked the story. It read well as a standalone and bought some distinct characters into being. The author wasn’t afraid to let his characters live and die by their bloodthirsty, ruthless decisions. Decisions of a mob character rather than your typical reader and watching this happen from the other side of a kindle screen worked well! If crime is a genre you enjoy this will be an easy read for you and I recommend it to all.

However, as I reach the end of this review I can confirm I enjoyed the book but I’m not brave enough to be a mob boss, so I will just thank everyone for reading and quietly creep out before anyone notices!

Mama’s Gone by Leopold Borstinksi was publsihed in the UK on Monday 18th March 2019 and is available in eBook format: | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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about-the-author3

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Leopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.

There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.

He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook | Website |