This powerful sequel to Once Wild has Nick Serranto attending his beloved wife’s funeral under heavy police guard. Two years later, Nick is an emotionally burned-out, chain-smoking, hard-drinking shell of a man, working as an enforcer and hit-man for his vicious older brother, Cal.
The uneasy balance and fragile structure in the top echelons of this crime family are a time-bomb waiting to explode.
This story has a sharp narrative and biting dialogue between the amoral characters. Gangster crime thrillers are thick on the ground, but Carol Gambill’s Breaking Out Series are among the best of the new wave, a compelling study of how crime can become a way of life and the corrosive effect it has on loyalty, even loyalty to family, breeding paranoia.
Being exploited as little more than hired muscle and an exterminator, Nick Serranto leads a shadowy existence of rage, violence, intimidation, self-loathing and regret, evident in his dealings with criminals, corrupt cops and women he uses and discards.
How do you break from a particular way of life if it’s all that you know, especially when the peer pressure comes from your own family?
It’s easy to imagine Nick in his twilight years, much like the embittered character Michael Corleone, played by Al Pacino in The Godfather Part 3, as he says: “Just when I thought I was out … they pull me back in!”
However, as Nick discovers, no matter how dark the present, the future always holds hope of love and redemption. Life is full of surprises, twists and turns, and our saviors can come from the mostly unlikely places.