Loretto Jones grew up in the same orphanage with Vincent Coll, but unlike the Coll brothers, Loretto is a true foundling; it is unknown if he is Irish or Italian. Loretto has good friends of both heritages. As the story begins, it is a hot July evening in 1931. Loretto is waiting on a street corner for his friend, Dominic, when a car comes down the street. As it draws even with a sidewalk lemonade stand operated by a gangster named Richie Cabo, one of Coll’s rivals, the occupants of the car start shooting at Cabo, hitting several children. Cabo survives, has seen Loretto, and decides he was on that corner as a lookout for the shooters. This is a classic situation of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Cabo puts a price on Loretto’s head. Loretto works for Dominic’s uncle, Don Maranzano, an untouchable Sicilian crime lord, who has enough influence to cancel Cabo’s hit. Once a gang war heats up, Loretto has little choice but to side with his childhood friend, Vince, now being called “Mad Dog” because one of the children caught in the crossfire at the lemonade stand died. Loretto is torn between the quick, easy money Coll offers and his love for Maria Baronti, who will have nothing to do with him if he continues his life of crime.
Ed Falco, author of The Family Corleone, has written a hard-hitting Depression-era literary crime novel about a minor wannabe crime boss, Vincent “Mad Dog” Coll. Falco manages to write about these criminal monsters without dehumanizing them by portraying them from Loretto’s point of view. This exciting, fast-paced novel is well worth reading.