About the Book
The 1957 murder of an undercover cop in a New York City housing project has unexpected ties to the unsolved disappearance of a young father walking home in those same projects with his son, Angelo, on Christmas Eve six years before. The only witness to the cop killing is Angelo, now 13, while on his way to seek his own revenge in the early morning hours. The killers know he saw them. A series of gripping events forge a union between a priest, a Mafia boss, a police detective, and Angelo, a gang member. In the end, Weepers shows us that the courage of the underdog despite fear and moral ambiguity will conquer intimidation.
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In reading this novel I was immersed in a world entirely different from mine. That Chiarkas grew up in the Al Smith housing projects allows him to bring a severe reality to a story set there. The characters are developed with emotional impact. I cannot imagine what life must have been like with teen gangs and the pressure they bring upon growing up. In addition to gangs was the presence of a powerful crime boss. Fortunately, he had the back of our teen hero, Angelo. But that means others had to die.
The priest characters added a different dimension to the story. A new priest welcomed into the community by gang violence toward him makes hims want to leave. The older priest grew up in the projects and knows the importance of what little they can do to help young people. Father Joe and the crime boss are friends from childhood. What a dilemma a man of the cloth must face, working with a known murderer to do what they can to help others.
There is suspense in this novel as there is quite a bit of violence. I would not describe it as a page turner, however. I am sure the nearly continued violence is realistic. I found it heart breaking rather than exciting. Chiarkas has done a good job firmly placing flawed people in a community plagued with crime and violence. I recommend it to readers who are looking for a book exploring a gritty time in the New York project housing area.
My rating: 4/5 stars.
About the Author
Nick Chiarkas grew up in the Al Smith housing projects in the Two Bridges neighborhood on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
When he was in the fourth grade, his mother was told by the principal of PS-1 that, “Nick was unlikely to ever complete high school, so you must steer him toward a simple and secure vocation.” Instead, Nick became a writer, with a few stops along the way: a U.S. Army Paratrooper; a New York City Police Officer; the Deputy Chief Counsel for the President’s Commission on Organized Crime; and the Director of the Wisconsin State Public Defender Agency.
On the way to becoming an author, he picked up a Doctorate from Columbia University; a Law Degree from Temple University; and was a Pickett Fellow at Harvard. How many mothers are told their children are hopeless? How many kids with potential simply surrender to despair? That’s why Nick wrote Weepers and Nunzio's Way— for them.
Henschel Haus, 330 pages.
I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Partners in Crime Book Tours. My comments are an independent and honest review.
(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)