“Mr. Gross's direct style is full of sentiment but never maudlin and well-suited to scenes of violent action. Button Man has plenty of zip–and lots of moxie, too." –Wall Street Journal
"This is a big, heartfelt handshake of a book, with all the street-scrambling energy that distinguishes the best fiction of Jeffrey Archer and Mario Puzo." –USA Today
Following up The One Man and The Saboteur, Gross's next historical thriller brings to life the drama of the birth of organized crime in 1930s New York City from the tale of one family.
After a string of New York Times bestselling suburban thrillers, Andrew Gross has reinvented himself as a writer of historical thrillers. In his latest novel, Button Man, he delivers a stirring story of a Jewish family brought together in the dawn of the women's garment business and torn apart by the birth of organized crime in New York City in the 1930s.
Morris, Sol, and Harry Rabishevsky grew up poor and rough in a tiny flat on the Lower East Side, until the death of their father thrust them into having to fend for themselves and support their large family. Morris, the youngest, dropped out of school at twelve years old and apprenticed himself to a garment cutter in a clothing factory; Sol headed to accounting school; but Harry, scarred by a family tragedy, fell in with a gang of thugs as a teenager. Morris steadily climbs through the ranks at the factory until at twenty-one he finally goes out on his own, convincing Sol to come work with him. But Harry can't be lured away from the glamour, the power, and the money that come from his association with Louis Buchalter, whom Morris has battled with since his youth and who has risen to become the most ruthless mobster in New York. And when Buchalter sets his sights on the unions that staff the garment makers' factories, a fatal showdown is inevitable, pitting brother against brother.
This new novel is equal parts historical thriller, rich with the detail of a vibrant New York City in the 1920s and 1930s, and family saga, based on Andrew Gross's own family story and on the history of the era, complete with appearances by real-life characters like mobsters Louis Lepke and Dutch Schultz and special prosecutor Thomas Dewey, and cements Gross's reputation as today's most atmospheric and original historical thriller writer.
Bestseller Gross (The Saboteur) charts a gutsy kid's struggle to succeed in the garment industry in early 20th-century New York City in this formulaic crime thriller. In 1915, 12-year-old Morris Raab lands a job sweeping floors and making deliveries for a clothing manufacturer on the Lower East Side. His ambition and drive lead him to put in extra hours and to closely study the work of veteran marker maker Mr. Beck. Despite his youth and inexperience, Morris takes over from Beck after the marker maker announces his retirement. By the time he turns 20, Morris is basically running the business. In later years, he runs afoul of an organized crime group, whose leaders include the vicious Lepke Buchalter; marries the daughter of a big-shot lawyer; and aids mob-busting prosecutor Thomas Dewey in his investigations. Gross strains credulity at several points and fails to bring the mean streets of the Big Apple to life. Still, this Horatio Alger story will resonate with his many fans. 100,000-copy announced first printing; author tour.)
I met Andrew at a mutual friends house and have greatly enjoyed his past works.
However, this story is as much my families story as it is for so many of us who are the children of the garment industry. My father grew up on Delancey Street to be come a ladies coat buyer and the a ladies coat manufacturer. Dad ran away from home at 15 and fought and clawed to provide for his beloved wife and two children.
Reading this story was reliving my family story and for that I say thank you to Andrew.
Such an interesting story; so poorly written. Very wooden.