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Craig's Book Club
Book Reviews

Spotlight on: Road to Paradise by Max Allan Collins


To arrange to have products considered for review, send an email to craigsbookclub@yahoo.com.


Road to Paradise by Max Allan Collins Max Allan Collins, Road to Paradise

He'd been Michael O'Sullivan, Jr., a kid in Rock Island, Illinois. He'd been the Angel of Death's getaway driver, written up in newspapers all over. He'd been Michael Satariano, a teenager in DeKalb. He'd been Michael Satariano the war hero. He'd been Michael Satariano the mob enforcer. And he'd been Michael Satariano the casino boss.

Being Michael Smith, the restaurant manager, was no strain. -- from Road to Paradise

His career comes full circle as Max Allan Collins's latest novel mirrors the plot of his first. Bait Money, published in 1973 (currently available along with its sequel as Two for the Money), featured a "fifty-year-old bank robber on the run from his former mob bosses" (writes Collins in his bibliographic afterword), and so does Road to Paradise, which is set in that same year. About this coincidence, Collins writes, "so much for progress" and "had I known I'd be writing about the mid-'70s, I'd have paid more attention."

Michael Satariano -- formerly Michael O'Sullivan, Jr., who followed his father down the Road to Perdition, taking revenge on John Looney and other Chicago mobsters; later the adopted the son of Italian immigrants and the Congressional Medal of Honor–winning World War II hero who infiltrated the Outfit from within to seek further revenge on Al Capone's role in Michael, Sr.'s murder (read Road to Purgatory for this chapter of the trilogy) -- is living comfortably as the nearly retired "entertainment manager" for the Cal-Neva casino resort when he is asked to perform a task, one that he refuses. Only you don't say no when the mob requests your services.

Road to Paradise is the story of the making of that fateful decision and its aftermath, and it closes the trilogy of Road to... stories (each named for a volume in Dante's Divine Comedy) with a level of satisfaction I was not expecting from a second sequel. Along the way, Collins paints a portrait of a loving family put yet again into the path of danger and what they have to do to escape. Collins's only real concession to the time period are a vocally feminist (though not heavyhanded) daughter and the inclusion of the Satarianos (now the Smiths) in the newly burgeoning Witness Protection Program (WITSEC), as well as the appearance of Las Vegas Outfit leader Sam "Mooney" Giancana.

Readers unfamiliar with the previous entries need not read them first (though I highly recommend them as terrifically involving historical crime novels) -- Collins fills the reader in on all the information necessary to understand the significance of the events that occur in Road to Paradise (a tactic which is also useful to those of us with poor memories). When WITSEC fails, Michael must go back on the road with what is left of his family, and, for the last time, take revenge on those who double-crossed him. It is an emotionally complex journey, and one that I look forward to retaking.


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