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Gangsterland

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3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  543 Ratings  ·  117 Reviews
Sal Cupertine is a legendary hit man for the Chicago Mafia, known for his ability to get in and out of a crime without a trace. Until now, that is. His first-ever mistake forces Sal to botch an assassination, killing three undercover FBI agents in the process. This puts too much heat on Sal, and he knows this botched job will be his death sentence to the Mafia. So he ...more
Hardcover, 387 pages
Published September 9th 2014 by Counterpoint (first published August 18th 2014)
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Liz The reviews lie. I'm a fan of mafia stoires and Jewish stuff, and "Gangsterland" is just nowhere near as interesting as the title implies. It's a very…moreThe reviews lie. I'm a fan of mafia stoires and Jewish stuff, and "Gangsterland" is just nowhere near as interesting as the title implies. It's a very flat book for the most part. (less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Perry
Oct 08, 2016 Perry rated it liked it
Great Lakes Goombah Guns Down 4 G-men, Goes to Hide in Vegas where He Turns into Tony with a Torah

*3.5 stars*
I enjoyed this easily-readable crime novel with its dark and dryly witty plot.

Rabbi David Cohen (aka Sal Cupertino, a 35-year-old shadowy hitman with a bad plastic surgery job) appears to go through a existential crisis-lite as he misses his wife and young son and considers the Torah that he's basically committed to memory (his mob nickname was "Rain Man"), but maintains his killer karma.
...more
Skip
Jun 03, 2015 Skip rated it liked it
Shelves: thriller
NY Times Book Review made me do it: Sal Cupertine is a legendary hit man for the Chicago Mafia, and has to disappear when he kills three undercover FBI agents and a CI. He is stashed in a meat truck to Las Vegas, where following plastic surgery, he emerges as Rabbi David Cohen. Leading a growing congregation, he presides over funerals and counsels his congregation, quoting Torah, Talmud or Springsteen with aplomb. Of course, he cannot fully escape his life of crime and has to face a rogue, ...more
Gloria Feit
Apr 24, 2015 Gloria Feit rated it really liked it
The idea of juxtaposing the mafia, a hit man, and a Reform Jewish temple in Las Vegas forms the basis for this outrageous but satisfying novel. It is filled with a variety of characters and a plot that carries the theme with aplomb. While the concept may appear to be beyond the realms of reality, the author carries it out with grace and humor.

It all begins in Chicago, where Sal Cupertine is an extraordinary hit man for the mob, efficient, careful and never caught. Until one day he is assigned t
...more
Mark
Jun 02, 2014 Mark rated it it was amazing
I was lucky to get an early version of this remarkable, thoroughly enjoyable book. It's funny, scary, soulful, and so much fun.
Larry
Nov 26, 2014 Larry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Chicago mob hitman botches a job and is sent packing to Las Vegas to lay low under an assumed identity as a suburban Jewish rabbi. Sounds like a premise for either high comedy, or a treacly Hollywood-style morality tale. Thankfully, this novel is neither.

What it is, is a smart, crackling thriller filled with complex personalities, a gripping storyline, and, for the record, Talmudic wisdom. It's a mark of Goldberg's mastery of the form that he dodges all clichés and expectations. He has the rea
...more
Kate
Mar 14, 2015 Kate rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015-tbr
This was really 3 1/2 stars. I was having a hard time choosing what to read next and found this under a pile. I had borrowed it from the library soon after it came out, but a smoker had borrowed it before me and I was unable to read it, because it smelled so bad and made me wheeze. I bought a copy and then had other things to read for book clubs and then could not find a book I wanted to read. Gangsterland broke me out of my slump ( it only took me so long to read as work interfered!). It is the ...more
Raven
May 01, 2015 Raven rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Normally I’m wary of any crime book labelled as funny, and effusive taglines testifying to the scale of hilarity contained within, but this was an absolute hoot from start to finish. Arising from a short story entitled Mitzvah, the book is not only a dark and sinister crime caper, set in Las Vegas, but contains some of the sharpest wiseguy humour so reminiscent of the old master Elmore Leonard. The whole set-up for the plot with a sadistic Chicago hitman having to re-invent himself as a rabbi in ...more
Karl
Nov 13, 2014 Karl rated it really liked it
I vacillated between really enjoying this book and being bored by events occurring within the story. If that seems a strange juxtaposition, it's no stranger than the story itself.

Mr. Goldberg shows us what little difference there is between organized crime and organized religion. He achieves this by utilizing a hit man for the mob and a Jewish rabbi. In this story's case, as unlikely as it seems, it's the same man Sal Cupertine aka Rabbi David Cohen. Let me explain.

Sal has made a mess up in nego
...more
Mal Warwick
A legendary hit man for the Chicago Mafia named Sal Cupertine is spirited off to Las Vegas in a refrigerated meat truck after a botched job. There, after six months of radical plastic surgery and cramming with the Torah and the Talmud, he resurfaces as Rabbi David Cohen in a thriving suburban Reform congregation. Funny, right? Could be hilarious? Unfortunately, it isn’t.

Oh, Gangsterland has its moments. There are times when the sheer absurdity of the premise becomes overwhelming, and my only def
...more
Merle
Jul 26, 2015 Merle rated it really liked it
How funny is Tod Goldberg's new novel, Gansterland? A laugh a page funny. A book about a gangster who is relocated from Chicago to Las Vegas and given a new identity as a Rabbi!!

This is a really fun summer read!! I think Goldberg has hit the mark, he has used a topic that is real, the Mafia in Las Vegas, Chicago and other major cities and he has made it funny.

This is definitely a fun book to read and really got me thinking about the Jewish players in the history of the mob. I will be doing some
...more
Ross Helford
Nov 13, 2014 Ross Helford rated it it was amazing
A breezy criminal underworld page-turner with a creamy kosher middle. The thrilling inevitability of Torah and tommy guns.
Селина Йонкова
"другото лице" на тод годбърг е от онези трилъри след прочита на които оставате в мрачно настроение, заради внушението за посъвместна зависимост на обществото и икономиката от престъпните организации. това, че действието се развива в сащ, не е някаква утеха, защото аналогиите са неизбежни. от друга страна любителите на класиката в този жанр, ще са доволни, действие, кръв, стрелби, кръв, трупове, без много психологически и лирически отклонения. традиционно недотам съобразителни или корумпирани ...more
Sharyn
Apr 05, 2016 Sharyn rated it really liked it
Ok I have met Todd many times and received this book at a talk that he gave with his brother Lee. As a matter of fact, he is going to be at the book club I read this for next week. I have had this book on my shelf for a year, meaning to read it many times. The main character first appeared in a short story that begged to be made into a novel, Chicago hit man, with a photographic memory, ends up in Las Vegas after he kills some FBI agents. After plastic surgery , and a few months of study, he ...more
Natalie
Oct 04, 2014 Natalie rated it liked it
Sort of a Pygmalion-meets-Lillehammer-and-Dexter story in which a Chicago Mafia hitman is forced to go underground, reappearing in Las Vegas as a rabbi. He's not bad at the job, but his past follows him, as does the memory of his beloved wife and child--and an FBI agent he'd believed dead.

It's an odd, mostly fun book, with some rather harrowing violence. I would give this 3 1/2 stars if I could. Not quite 4; there's a bit too much explanation, and a couple of strokes of luck and loose and abrupt
...more
Kate Maruyama
Dec 06, 2014 Kate Maruyama rated it it was amazing
While hilarious and entertaining, this book also manages to be stirring and deeply human as our hitman finds unexpected lessons in his latest gig. Goldberg manages to hold this extremely particular ground between drama and humor that allows the reader to become completely invested in what should be an absurd and campy world and by the end, I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. Allong the way there were quiet moments and bits of stunning writing that just stopped me. I can't wait til the next ...more
Bonnie
Feb 04, 2015 Bonnie rated it really liked it
A perfect book for an airplane ride: very absorbing, quite funny in places, and not depressing (though there are some pretty violent scenes). A mobster screws up and has to change his entire identity. Sal Cupertine from Chicago becomes Rabbi David Cohen in Las Vegas. Because Sal has such a great memory (he's known as "Rain Man"), he can memorize whole sections of the Talmud (though he's as apt to quote Bruce Springsteen when giving advice and most people don't notice. It's a great premise and ...more
Deborah
Sep 08, 2015 Deborah rated it did not like it
What a very clever premise. An Italian Chicago hitman on the lam hides in Las Vegas where he has been transformed into a Rabbi by virtue of his autodidact abilities and a lot of plastic surgery.
The author provides us with much in the way of Torah references and ways of murdering people and hiding the bodies. That is not enough to justify 400+ pages.
At the conclusion of the book, I read that the genesis originally resulted in a short story, later expanded. That was a poor decision.
Ruth Niles
Oct 02, 2015 Ruth Niles rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite so far this year. A lot of characters, all very believable, a lot of no-holds-barred action with Mafia, Rabbis, hit men and a renegade FBI agent. I never saw the ending coming but was very comfortable with it. Every now and then when I finish a book that keeps me thinking about the whole story for a day or two after I finish reading it, I can't get into another book right away. This was one of those books.
Cflack
Nov 12, 2014 Cflack rated it it was ok
Clever premise, quick read, decent execution. I must say I liked the premise of the book more than the actual book itself. The writing was fine, the characters funny/interesting - it read more like a movie/TV show than a novel and looking at the bio of the author I can see why. It was compelling enough to make me want to finish, but I do not think I will think about it much now that I'm done.
Bad Cookie
Sep 28, 2014 Bad Cookie rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sam Reaves
Oct 24, 2016 Sam Reaves rated it really liked it
This is a strange book, certainly a crime novel but not really a thriller, more a novel of manners than of intrigue, full of moral ruminations but with a protagonist who is utterly morally corrupt.
It has a great hook: the Chicago mob's top hitman gets a little carried away and kills three FBI agents, bringing down intense heat. Normally he would get whacked for the indiscretion, but he has friends in high places and instead gets "sold" to a Las Vegas crime boss who arranges for plastic surgery a
...more
Daniel Sevitt
Nov 28, 2016 Daniel Sevitt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this after listening to Tod on Literary Disco which is one of the better book podcasts available. It has a satisfyingly dark heart with a Talmudic twist that you don't find in many crime novels about hit men and the Mafia. Rabbi David Cohen is definitely one of the more unexpected anti-heroes in modern noir.
David
Oct 31, 2016 David rated it really liked it
(I'd give it 3.5 if GoodReads allowed partial stars.)

Enjoyable fast read; classic feel Mafia tale. Nice twist with hard core hitman morphed into Rabbi to hide him. Not great enough to recommend unless you like the genre, in which case, yeah, its a fun read.
Petra De Graaf
Oct 16, 2016 Petra De Graaf rated it it was amazing
Een creatieve thriller, zeldzaam in het genre
Luca De Fraia
I'll surely pick up another of Goldberg's books after reading Gangsterland. L.
Dana Stabenow
Jan 25, 2015 Dana Stabenow rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Joe Kraus
Jul 05, 2016 Joe Kraus rated it liked it
Shelves: hardboiled-noir
I wanted very much to love this book. I have a particular interest for the way writers imagine Jews in organized crime, and I was drawn to Goldberg’s work by the comparisons people kept making between him and Elmore Leonard.

To be fair, Goldberg has mastered half the Leonard formula. He takes his characters in unlikely directions, and he doesn’t apologize for their quirks or for their capacity for depravity. They are who they are, and you can see glimmers of the beautiful amorality of Tarantino’s
...more
Erica
Dec 22, 2014 Erica rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
BooksnPics
Jun 01, 2016 BooksnPics rated it liked it
Sal Cupertine, légendaire tueur à gages sévissant à Chicago, discret et sans histoire, commet l'erreur de sa vie en tuant 3 agents fédéraux et un indic. La Famille n'a d'autre solution que de le faire disparaître de la circulation et le maintient enfermé quelques mois le temps de sa métamorphose....

Cédant la place au rabbin David Cohen, sa vie va prendre un tournant considérable... Plongé dans les textes de la Torah, il en devient méconnaissable à plus d'un titre... Vraiment? La Famille ne l'a s
...more
Liz
Apr 06, 2016 Liz rated it it was ok
I'm disappointed.

The description made it sound like "Gangsterland" was going to be a Jewish mafia version of "Les Mis." I expected something both thrilling and emotional. Instead I got a mediocre crime novel with a really cheap and disorganized ending.

The only part I did like was the rather wicked death scene where (SPOILER) David/Sal kills the Doctor. That was the only moment where I felt like I was reading an actual "scene" (for lack of a better word), the only moment where I felt I was readin
...more
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Tod Goldberg is the author of the novels Living Dead Girl, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Fake Liar Cheat & Burn Notice: The Fix, as well as the short story collection Simplify, winner of the Other Voices Short Story Collection Prize and a finalist for the SCBA Award in Fiction.
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