Hello, Sunshines, I have the massive pleasure to be apart of the epic blog tour for the amazing; Alex Cohen Series by Leopold Borstinski. I have an equally epic post for you all today, I am super excited to be sharing mini-reviews of all three books in the box set; The Bowery Slugger, East Side Hustler and Midtown Huckster, plus a mini-review of the overall series. Firstly, I want to say a huge thank you to Emma at damppebbles for the invite to such an amazing tour. Now, let’s have a look at these books…
About the Series
Three decades in the life of Jewish gangster, Alex Cohen, as he arrives in the US and forges a life for himself and his family using the blood, sweat and tears of those who stand in his way.
This digital box set contains the first three books in the saga of Alex Cohen’s life:
The Bowery Slugger: When Alex Cohen arrives in 1915 America, he seizes the land of opportunity with both hands and grabs it by the throat. But success breeds distrust and Alex must choose between controlling his gang and keeping his friend alive. What would you do if the person you trusted most is setting you up to die at your enemies’ hands?
East Side Hustler: Alex returns from the Great War almost destroyed by the horrors he has experienced. When he is plucked from certain death by an old friend, he commits to making so much money he’ll never know that agony again. But the route to the top is filled with danger and every time he helps one of his powerful friends like Al Capone, he acquires more enemies who want to see him dead. The turmoil caused by the death of organised crime financier, Arnold Rothstein means Alex must once more fight for his life. How far would you go to seize the American dream? And could you protect your family along the way from the fellas who want to see you dead?
Midtown Huckster: Alex runs Murder Inc for Lucky Luciano. After the death of Prohibition, he must find a new way to make money, just as the cops are baying at his heels. When Luciano goes down for racketeering, Alex loses his protection and is arrested for tax evasion-he must decide between saving his skin and ratting out his friends. If he chooses prison time then his gang will fall apart and he will end up with nothing. If he squeals then he will have to flee the city he loves and the family he once adored. What would you do in a world where nobody can be trusted and you have everything to lose?
Firstly, can I mention the box set cover?
My Gawd, I love it!! The moment I set eyes on it, I was like ‘ Oh, my word…it’s Tommy Shelby’ You have to admit that lowered man’s profile wearing that very familiar baker boy hat, screams Peaky’s and I am so in love with it!!
The Alex Cohen series is an exceptional historical crime saga, which follows the life of Alex Cohen as he makes his way, ducking and diving through his life as a Gangster. The first three are the early years and so far are easily my favourite, from the first book; The Bowery Slugger when his family first settled in America in 1910 right through to the true age of the gangster Mob of the 1920s to the 1930s.
All three books can be read easily as stand-alone, I actually started this series with the third book; Midtown Huckster and I was gripped instantly, and then went back and read the first two. Saying that my personal opinion is that you should read them in order as only then will you fully appreciate just how marvellous this series is.
Alex Cohen is certainly a character who will keep you on your toes and despite him being essentially a bit of a villain, there is something mesmerising about him, despite the violence and the brutality which he lives his life he is an enigmatic and charismatic character who will pull you into his dark and gritty world and I can guarantee the moment you read your first Alex Cohen novel you will be hooked for life.
The Alex Cohen series is a compelling, richly narrated, vivid, gritty, atmospheric and thrilling series, each book sparkles like diamonds in the rough.
The Bowery Slugger Review
The first book in the series catches the imagination and ensures from page one you will be forever waiting for the next Alex Cohen instalment.
The Bowery Slugger opens with aplomb, it’s violent and instantly memorable, we first meet Alex Cohen when his family have made the trip to change their stars in America, he instantly realises that reality doesn’t always match up to the dream and he must rely on his own initiative, his own unique set of skills to provide for his family as it becomes clear it is Alex who must take responsibly. He does try to find work but alas being a Jewish immigrant isn’t on his side, but it happens that the lawful route may not be for him he finds he can makes ends meet a different way and this soon makes a name for himself and that puts him amongst the brutal Jewish Mob.
Alex may be a violent criminal, he may be a jaded, complex and ruthless individual but he is a brilliant character, in some ways you can really relate to him, he is a teenager in a completely new country trying his hardest to find a way to support his family but because of who he is, this makes life hard for him. At his heart is family, he will do all he can to provide for and look after them, and I think a lot of us can relate to certain aspects.
The Bowery Slugger is a brilliantly thrilling and dark-edged novel, and sets the reader up nicely for the series and ready for what’s to come!
East Side Hustler Review
The second book in the exciting series is just as good – or even better – then the first, it more or less starts off where the first finishes (give or take a few years) so I would recommend you read the first book’ The Bowery Slugger’ first, just so can get a real in-depth look into the character’s and their backstories – you don’t necessarily need to, but I would.
This time our not-quite-a-hero; Alex Cohen has come back from the Great War, the world has changed completely around him and yet as soon as he returns home he is once again pulled right back into the violent, perilous and brutal world he had left behind. Alex isn’t the same lad he was in the first book, he has grown into a man who has lost a lot of that charismatic-ness of his teenage years and developed a harder shell-like outer-edge, mainly due to what he had seen and experienced during the war – as so many men did. Anyone who follows the blog will know of my deep passion and love of this era and of the stories which come from such horror such as WW1.
I loved this one, it has the familiar names and faces we all know from the era, and that true history is perfectly intertwined with the fabulous fictional tale which is playing out before our eyes. Alex is right back into the Mob life once again, with real-life names such as Al Capone popping up into Alex’s life (I won’t say too much as this is one you NEED to read) and prohibition is in full swing there is so much going on in this dangerous tale of a gangster who in a way doesn’t want to go back, but doesn’t really know anything other than the violence of which has made him famous.
As I am a HUGE Peaky Blinders fan, this one is easily my favourite of all the three books, I love the era, the history and Borstinski has once again brought that to the 21st century as though you are living it too. I love the desolate and rawness of the era which hangs over the entirety of the story like a heavy mist. Like with the Peaky’s you can’t help but really like Alex, he isn’t a hero in the normal sense but he is very compelling.
Once again, this is a book which needs to be read, if you love your grittier, authentic and engaging crime novels then this is the one to read.
Midtown Huckster Review
New York during the 1930s was a dangerous place, especially if you are a notorious gangster, and now that prohibition has ended those who made their ‘living’ during that time have to find another way to bring in the cash. Alex Cohen, brutal, notorious killer and gangster is running the ‘Murder Corporation’ which is basically what it says on the tin, for Lucky Luciano. But with ‘Lucky’ taken down for racketeering and a new FBI agent; Special Prosecutor, Thomas Dewey turning up with the sole intention of bringing down the gangsters and cleaning up the New York streets and his main target is Alex and his gang. Alex soon finds himself in a very precarious position where he must make a life and death choice, I won’t say too much as I wouldn’t wish to spoil even a second off this compelling book for you, but I will say that it will have you perched at the edge of your seat.
This is compelling, intoxicating and hugely enjoyable, even though Alex is a real nasty piece of work, he is a ruthless killer who dabbles in so much darkness, but I couldn’t help myself to be drawn to him like a moth to a flame, he intrigued me and pulled me into his dark and deadly world as he and his gang try to find a new way to make money. I also liked that he isn’t just a stereotypical baddie, he is a rare gangster in the fact that he is a conscience, there are certain things that he isn’t exactly keen to become entangled in.
A little bit of a warning that there is violence that is at times very vivid but seeing as this is a crime, gangster novel that shouldn’t be a surprise and it’s so expertly written that you become fully absorbed into the whole story, violence and all.
Midtown Huckster – like the previous two in the series – is dark, gritty, exciting, a fast-paced compelling and richly vivid book that will hook you from the first page. It’s not one for who like a lighter read, there are some pretty graphic and harrowing scenes, which are written with such talent Leopold Borstinski doesn’t hold back, you are swept along on a thrilling, intricate and highly addictive journey full of brutal crimes and notorious gangster’s. I love that the fictitious story is interwoven with some real historical names whom many of you will have heard of, the way they are worked alongside the fabulous fictional characters is brilliant, it all seamlessly flows together to make a classy and edgy read.
About the Author
Leopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.
There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.
He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.
Social Media: Twitter: https://twitter.com/borstinski @borstinski / Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LeoBorstinski/ / Website: https://www.leopoldborstinski.com/ / Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/borstinski/