3 out of 4 stars
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Abate the Nuisance is a crime thriller written by Bill Sage. In 1950s Detroit, Michigan, outlaws in The Purple Gang meet at "The Veterans Club" to drink whiskey, play cards and bet on sporting events. Member Ziggy denies his nephew Al Roth (12) and Al's friend Jake Gertner access until Purple Gang hitman Lev Keller convinces him to let them in. Jake soon enjoys accompanying gang members to beatings they administer to people who are late in making loan repayments. Al hates violence and instead spends his time learning from backroom bookies the Weisberg brothers. In high school, the boys create the 12th Street Gang and spend much time in street fights with other gangs.
Later, Al studies law and goes to work for the District Attorney's office, eventually becoming a judge. Jake becomes a contract killer. On Al's wedding day, he learns that Arnold Goldman, an unethical attorney, has found out potentially damaging information on Al and Jake. Goldman knows they once committed a tobacco store robbery where they shot two men, and that they interfered in a murder trial presided over by Al. Jake wants to kill Goldman, but Al decides to get close to him to find out how much he knows.
The character personalities in this book are well separated. Though they are best friends, Al does not share Jake's violent streak and wonders how Jake deals with the things he does. Then there is the arrogant, self-involved Goldman, who possesses none of Al and Jake's loyalty to others. A great sense of camaraderie runs between the Purple Gang members and Al and Jake as boys; they seem like a big family. An interesting conflict develops between Al and Jake when Jake's violent tendencies take a certain situation too far. With Al's hatred for unnecessary violence, this puts a strain on their friendship. Al also struggles with his own dual persona, walking a tightrope between interpreting the law as a judge and his criminal connections with Jake and the 12th Street Gang.
The story jumps back and forth between time periods seamlessly. The chapter headers tell you where and when you are, but context alone is usually enough to orient you to the time period. Sage feeds a decent amount of Al's past into the story as needed. He also demonstrates a sound knowledge of legal proceedings in the courtroom scenes. All of the plot threads tie together nicely at the end. The writing is neat and punchy, with simple sentences that get straight to the point. The dialogue is sharp and witty, which breaks up the more serious conversations nicely. With plenty of dialogue and sharp prose, this book is easy to read, and I finished it quickly. The only negatives for me were twenty to thirty minor errors in the text, which were mostly single missing words.
I really wanted to give this book 4 stars. It is a highly entertaining crime thriller, well-written and well-paced. I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys the crime genre, but definitely not to those put off by strong scenes of violence and murder. Unfortunately, due to the minor errors in the text, I must rate it 3 out of 4 stars. With one more edit, it would be a definite 4 stars.
Abate the Nuisance
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