Author: Leopold Borstinski
Published: Kindle and Paperback 2019
Publisher: Sobriety Press
I’d like to start by saying a massive thank you to Leopold Borstinski and Emma from #damppebblesblogtours for my copy of the book. I’ve been lucky enough to start the series from the beginning in the run up to the release of Casino Chiseler – Alex Cohen#4 which is published on 30th September 2020. Don’t miss the fantastic blog tour starting on Monday 2nd November!
From the blurb…
A turn-of-the-century Jewish boy punches his way into the gangs of New York.
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?
The first book in the Alex Cohen series is a violent historical novel, which rips through the early years of the Jewish New York mob. Leopold Borstinski’s gripping crime noir beats at the chest of every reader with a bloody fist.
Oh wow, this book is so action packed! I wasn’t sure what to expect before I started reading, but I ended up loving it. After I updated my knowledge of the Jewish language used throughout, I got into the story pretty quickly.
I won’t ruin the beginning for you by explaining how we meet the characters, but I will say this – I couldn’t put it down. An exploration into surviving, providing for your family and making tough choices in a bid to make it big.
When Alex and his family arrive in America from the Ukraine, they don’t speak the language and they have very little. After spending time in a shelter, the family move into a tenement building in the heart of the Jewish ghetto. The Bowery is a pretty rough neighbourhood, located in Lower East Side, Manhattan. Alex’s dad, Moishe, pays one month’s rent and their new lives begin.
While Alex is out exploring, he makes a few acquaintances with the locals. After some quick talking and proving himself valuable to have around, he finds himself embroiled with some unsavoury characters. With things looking up, he seems quiet pleased with himself.
After a chance encounter in the doorway of her apartment, Alex meets Rebecca. She quickly fills a lot of his head space and he hopes they can start dating. Rebecca’s family live in the same building as Alex and both sets of parents become friendly. With his family struggling to make any more rent money, Alex steps in to cover it. Things progress quite quickly with his new ventures and he is soon rising through the ranks of the underworld.
Alex is a lovable rogue, who exudes charisma, but he definitely has a darker side to him; there are a few hints to his former life in the old country too. He is clever and calculating, always looking for the advantage in any situation. One thing is for certain though, he doesn’t like to be crossed. I was shocked to find out how old he actually is.
Unfortunately, his exploits soon become local gossip, despite the fact he tries to keep his home and work lives separate. This does not have a good bearing on his chances with neighbour Rebecca. I definitely found myself routing for him, even when I possibly shouldn’t. As he struggles with his own vulnerabilities, he always keeps his goals in sight and keeps moving forwards.
One of my favourite characters is Sarah. She is a strong woman and has a no nonsense attitude. I love her happy nature and the way she is written; she definitely tells it like it is. We don’t see too much of her to begin with, but she features more as the years go on and her dealings with Alex become more frequent.
The Bowery Slugger is certainly full of drama and shows how tough life was for newcomers to the Freeland. It is fast paced and has some fantastic fight scenes. The story finished in a really good place and left me dying to start the next book, which I did straight away. With the cliffhanger ending still buzzing in my brain, I was not prepared for the opening scenes of book#2. Look out for my review coming soon.
An Alex Cohen prequel, The Broska Bruiser, is kindly available on Leopold Borstinski’s author website here, so you can see for yourself how good this series is. Be warned though, once you make that connection with Alex, you’ll be hooked too! The writing style is really easy and it’s hard to stop once you have started.
If you loved The Bowery Slugger too…
Alex Cohen#2, East Side Hustler, was published earlier in the year, so you can jump straight into the next decade of Alex’s life.
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.