Set during the Great Depression and based in part on real characters and a series of historical events, Toughs follows the story of Loretto Jones as he finds his life intertwined with the fate of Vince Coll, a twenty-three-year-old Irish gangster who for a brief moment rose to the level of a national celebrity during his war with Dutch Schultz, Owen Madden, Lucky Luciano, etc. Tagged “Mad Dog Coll” after killing five-year-old Michael Vengelli in a botched assassination attempt, Coll was the subject of a shoot-to-kill order issued by NY City Police Commissioner Edward P. Mulrooney, a $50,000 bounty offered by Dutch Shultz and Owen Madden, and $30,000 in reward money from by the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and the city’s newspapers.
Loretto and Vince are bound to each other by years spent in an orphanage and on the streets, but in the summer of 1931, with Loretto in love with newly-divorced Gina Baronti, and Vince in thrall to the beautiful Lottie Kriesberger, their world of tough guys in tough times is hurtling toward disaster, and Loretto finds himself faced with impossible choices.
A new hard-hitting literary noir crime novel from the New York Times best-selling author of The Family Corleone.
17.95 | Trade Paper | 6 x 9 | 480 pages
ISBN: 978-1-60953-111-9 | Carton Quantity: 15-20
Loretto glanced down the avenue, over the throngs of kids running the streets. He was looking for Dom and his beloved Packard, but noticed instead a pale green sedan cruising slowly toward him, hugging the center line, as if looking for something or someone on the left side of the street. Loretto scanned the sidewalk and spotted Richie Cabo and two of his torpedoes outside his club, a few feet from where Frank Scaletta, a neighborhood kid, had set up a lemonade stand and was selling drinks for a penny to a bunch of little girls crowded around him. Approaching Frankie a girl of about ten or twelve in an ill-fitting yellow sundress maneuvered a black baby carriage along the crowded sidewalk. Loretto took a step back and positioned himself behind the lamp post. Across the street, Richie Cabo’s men went back into the club, apparently having forgotten something. Cabo worked for Dutch Schultz now. He drove around in a bulletproof Pierce Arrow. Once his men were out of sight, he looked up and down the street, and Loretto saw in his eyes the moment when he spotted the sedan rolling toward him. His short, heavy body locked up still as a monument while he watched the faded green sedan roll to a stop in front of his club. A heartbeat later, under a downpour of gunfire, he dove into a doorway and rolled out of sight.
In the confusion of the instant when the shooting started, the shouting kids, the cacophony of voices, came to a halt. The only sounds were the rush of water from the johnny pump and the loud clatter of gunfire as the commotion drew all eyes toward the green sedan and Richie Cabo’s club, where the crudely made wooden lemonade stand splintered and collapsed to the sidewalk. A pitcher of water and bright yellow lemons shattered and spilled to the curb. Once the neighborhood grasped what was happening, the screaming and shouting from windows and the street and fire escapes and doorways almost drowned out the shooting. The girl in the yellow dress pushing the baby carriage howled and pulled a bloody infant out of the pram as she herself was shot and knocked sideways. Still, she held the infant and ran for a doorway, calling to her aunt. A boy of seven or eight lay bleeding on the sidewalk, his head on the blue slate curb. An even younger boy, maybe four or five years old, lay on his belly in the street. A woman ran to the older boy and cradled him in her arms. The younger boy in the street lay by himself trailing a wide stain of blood.
When the gunfire stopped and the green sedan started up the avenue again, still rolling slowly, only a few miles per hour, Loretto followed along on the sidewalk trotting and then sprinting as he got a look at the driver. He recognized Frank Guarracie’s pinched face and understood that it had to be Vince in the back seat doing the shooting. He couldn’t see Vince’s face. He had a fedora pulled down almost to his nose, but he was a head taller than anyone else in the car—and if Frank was driving who else could it be but Vince? The mug alongside Frank in the front seat was probably Patsy. His clothes were rumpled, he wasn’t wearing a tie, and his hat sat on his head like a shapeless lump—and that kind of slovenliness was typical of DiNapoli. He couldn’t get a good look at the two mugs in the back seat with Vince but he’d guess Tuffy and Mike. They’d both been running with Vince since they were all kids.