3 out of 4 stars
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Does some people’s repeated unpalatable behavior ever vex you to the point you want to understand the said behavior’s raison d’etre? Well, that became my story when I chanced upon Along For The Ride, by Mickey Royal. You see, Royal is a former enforcer, pimp and pornographer. In fact, one of his books is said to be used by the FBI in giving insight into the minds of human traffickers.
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to now report that though my vexation was not assuaged, I enjoyed an entertaining account of the author’s ups and downs on the streets! Mickey Royal, aka Mikail Sharif, was rising up gang-ranks when his benefactor was executed. Was this a result of infighting within the gang, or was there an unknown enemy in the works?
What follows is Mickey’s trials and tribulations both on the run, and when he chooses to go back to the life he knows best. The reader journeys with him through his lowest moments and when he establishes a thriving ‘pimping’ agency that becomes ‘family’ for his girls. Meanwhile, many quarters seem to think he holds the key to Momo’s murder. Does he?
This flippant autobiography is fast-paced and engaging. The eight-chapter, drama-filled book can be read in one sitting. The author’s writing style is described as faction (fact/fiction). It is conversational with a sprinkling of street-speak. Some facts have been omitted or altered to protect concerned parties.
Writing in the first-person perspective of his point of view, the author provides readers a glimpse into a gangster’s daily struggles and frustrations. Though many crimes are committed, my take is that the book is more an autobiography than one of the C/T/M/H genre in which it is placed.
Character development isn’t the book’s strong point. This is no surprise, however, because being an autobiography, characters are portrayed just as they come. Even Mickey shows very little development. We know very little of how he ended up on the streets. Circumstances constantly force his hand, or should I say he is always a victim of circumstances, as opposed to the strategic mastermind of events?
Being a law-abiding citizen, it was hard for me to cheer most actions. All the same, I empathized with some of the strippers and prostitutes working hard to make a living. As the author put it, ‘these knights of the night had dealt with rape and assault daily as an occupational hazard. Their abuse goes ignored because their scars are invisible to the naked eye.’
The biggest problem I experienced with the book was its lack of professional editing. It is rife with homophonic, punctuation, tense, and awkward-sentence errors. A round of editing is, therefore, necessary to improve its reading experience.
Furthermore, the book appeared rushed towards the end. Establishment of the ‘Royal Family,’ which was one of its key features, took only a minuscule portion of the narration. So did solving of the murder mystery. The author could consider fleshing these out some more.
After much internal debate, I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. I would recommend it to lovers of mafia stories. Though sexual scenes aren’t explicit, the book contains cussing and some violence. It is, therefore, not an excellent choice for younger readers.
Along For The Ride
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