Twenty-two year old orphaned student Russell Newhouse is introduced to Shushan “Shoeshine” Cats, a self educated gangster in New York City. Shoeshine quickly takes Russell under his wing and throws him into the comical underbelly of the New York crime scene. Set against the backdrop of the Kennedy assassination and the Civil Rights movement, Kestin’s poignant and witty epic novel is superbly written. Kestin has the right ear for dialogue. When the FBI shows up to ask Shushan why he went on a recent trip to Dallas and his known association with a local gangster named Jack Ruby, “The man was crying on the phone. I went down, held his hand. I think he was having what they call a breakdown. He was a wreck, His business wasn’t doing too well. There was trouble with one of the strippers he was dating. She walked out on him. Men get to a certain age, things don’t work out, they can get… desperate.”
Packed with numerous literary references that will test your reading IQ, Kestin has created a terrific out of this world novel where nothing and nobody is as they seem.