Mickey Fine and Mutzie Feder dream big in 1920s New York. Mickey is a tumler, an entertainer and host newly hired for a lavish, elegant Catskills resort run by the very criminals who brutalized his family when he was a young boy. Mutzie decides to transform her lackluster personality and prospective future, emulating the renowned, gorgeous actress, Jean Harlow. Their idealistic, glamour-ridden dreams seem to be progressing so easily, as Mutzie imagines, “Who said people can’t live the lives depicted in the movies… Who said it was not possible for a poor Jewish girl from Brownsville to reach such aspirations?”
The real business of the men whom Mickey and Mutzie join is crime—loan sharking, extorting labor union finances, gambling and prostituting needy woman like Mutzie. Once they begin to realize that they are nothing but pawns in the ever-changing “jobs” of crime, they have been threatened and manipulated into doing far different jobs than they originally believed possible. Will they stay or be eliminated by their new “owners”? Welcome to the world where thugs vie for favor and think nothing of snitching on each other, supplying true and false reports to remove the competition.
Warren Adler accurately and incisively portrays the stereotypical evil and funny mob world that viewers normally admire from the safety of their movie seats. The creator of The War of the Roses novel-turned-movie, Adler here spins a whirling, tense story about a frighteningly dangerous world where one wrong move mandates death or escape. Funny Boys is a great read for those who love the fairly common crime subgenre of historical fiction.