It’s been two years since the events of Gangsterland, when legendary Chicago hitman Sal Cupertine disappeared into the guise of Vegas Rabbi David Cohen. It’s September of 2001 and for David, everything is coming up gold: Temple membership is on the rise, the new private school is raking it in, and the mortuary and cemetery―where Cohen has been laundering bodies for the mob―is minting cash. But Sal wants out. He’s got money stashed in safe-deposit boxes all over the city. He’s looking at places to escape to, Mexico or maybe Argentina. He only needs to make it through the High Holidays, and he’ll have enough money to slip away, grab his wife and kid, and start fresh.
Across the country, former FBI agent Matthew Drew is now running security for an Indian Casino outside of Milwaukee, spending his off-time stalking members of The Family, looking for vengeance for the murder of his former partner. So when Sal’s cousin stumbles into the casino one night, Matthew takes the law into his own hands―again―touching off a series of events that will have Rabbi Cohen running for his life, trapped in Las Vegas, with the law, society, and the post-9/11 world closing in around him.
Gangster Nation is a thrilling follow-up to Gangsterland, an unexpected, page-turning examination of the seedy foundations of American life. With the wit and gritty glamor that defines his writing, Goldberg traces how the things we most value in our lives―home, health, even our spiritual lives―have been built on the enterprises of criminals.
“One can’t help but think of such greats as Mario Puzo, Jimmy Breslin, Elmore Leonard, and Donald E. Westlake while reading this witty, brutal, vital book. Goldberg is a master, expertly building upon the grim goings-on of Gangsterland, merrily pursuing plot points set up there to their logical, wicked ends. And, as if the impressive buildup of tension weren’t sufficient, he ends the current installment on a cliff hanger of truly epic proportions, setting up what appears to be the forthcoming and final installment of the Gangster trilogy.” — Mystery Scene Magazine
“Fans of Elmore Leonard will quickly devour Tod Goldberg’s latest novel, “Gangster Nation.” Based in Las Vegas and featuring the same mobster hit man-turned-rabbi from his breakout hit, “Gangsterland,” this worthy follow-up sees Goldberg fine-tune his signature mix of dark humor, violent crime, Talmudic wisdom and suburban satire.” — Coast Magazine
“Rabbi David Cohen, the mobster and hit man once known as Sal Cupertine, is back in Gangster Nation, Tod Goldberg’s follow-up to 2014’s wonderfully over-the-top Gangsterland. It’s now September 2001, and although David/Sal has become firmly ensconced in his Las Vegas synagogue and the profitable doings of the Jewish mob, things aren’t getting any easier for him. An obsessed FBI agent (whose associates Sal had killed) is closing in, the plastic surgery on Sal’s face is failing, and the pain he feels for having abandoned his wife and son in Chicago more than three years ago is becoming unbearable—to the point that the former hit man is planning a return to the Windy City. During his time studying the Torah and ministering to the congregants of his Vegas temple, Sal has become a very sage man, wise about the plights of others … as well as his own. “If Sal Cupertine came to Rabbi David Cohen, what would David tell him?” he muses, as he places his predicament onto a larger stage. Yet Cupertine remains a gangster, working the angles whenever he can, convinced that life (and the new PATRIOT Act) is basically a con and a scam. That’s the kind of jaded thinking that might force a man to make mistakes—just what a fake rabbi can ill afford.” — The Rap Sheet, Best of 2017
“In the new book, Cupertine-Cohen is planning his escape from both his past and present, hoping to be reunited with his wife and son for a fresh start far from anyone that’s ever known him, but as the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 occur, his world and the world at large are turned upside down, his life and future thrown into jeopardy. It’s a thriller that walks a neat path from funny to frightening, its characters motivated by the overlapping codes of criminality and religion.” — Orange County Register
“In the sequel to 2014’s Gangsterland, fugitive Mob boss Sal Cupertine is living a (relatively) peaceful life in Las Vegas under the assumed identity of Rabbi David Cohen. He’s slowly amassing enough money to move to South America, where he plans to resume his criminal ways in a less-dangerous environment. Meanwhile, disgraced former FBI agent Matthew Drew is hell-bent on finding Cupertine and exacting revenge for the Mob man’s murder of three of Drew’s former colleagues; and Peaches Pocotillo, a Mob fix-it guy, is negotiating a sweet deal with Sal’s cousin, Ronnie. Set a couple of years after Gangsterland, Goldberg’s new novel is every bit as entertaining and at least as quirky as its predecessor—not an out-andout comedy but certainly lighter than most books featuring organized crime figures and crazed law enforcers (although there are moments of memorable darkness). The book can be read as an installment in a series or as a stand-alone; Goldberg provides enough background to allow newbies to pick up the important plot threads. ” — Booklist
“Offbeat doesn’t begin to describe Goldberg’s impressive sequel to 2014’s Gangsterland. Mafia leader Sal Cupertine escaped arrest by hiding in the back of a refrigerated meat truck after murdering three undercover FBI agents and an informant in Chicago. Now, he’s successfully reinvented himself as Rabbi David Cohen in Las Vegas, where he’s found that not being Jewish “had ceased, over time, to be a problem.” He has successfully faked his way into the job, officiating over life cycle events and dispensing nuggets of wisdom. Goldberg’s sections on Cupertine/Cohen’s relationship with his wealthy flock, which includes a man who hires Donny Osmond to sign autographs at his daughter’s wedding, provide a satirical look at the superficial aspects of affluent American life. The threat that the gangster’s past will catch up with him comes in the form of FBI agent Matthew Drew, who’s bent on avenging his late colleagues. Fans of clever mixes of dark humor and violent crime by authors such as Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiaasen will be pleased.” — Publishers Weekly
“Boasting less outlandish humor than Gangsterland but far more ambition, the sequel conducts extended discussions on how America is defined by crime, boldly linking gangland violence to the 9/11 attacks…but the second time around, Sal/David’s mixing of Talmudic citations with Bruce Springsteen lyrics is still very funny. The sacred gets the stuffing kicked out of it by the profane in this wild and sometimes-shocking novel.” — Kirkus Reviews
“Gangster Nation is the sequel to Goldberg’s acclaimed 2014 novel Gangsterland, which told the story of former Chicago hitman Sal Cupertine’s transformation into Las Vegas Rabbi David Cohen. Cupertine’s major screwup—he killed three FBI officers and an informant—necessitated his leaving Chicago and his family for an unusual new identity overseeing a congregation in the well-heeled Vegas suburb of Summerlin. The pleasure of these books comes from the critique of institutions Cupertine/Cohen sees all around him as a criminal turned confidante. Not only religion but family (what is the mafia if not a family?) and community are dissected in Goldberg’s sharp satires, which also happen to be excellent crime novels.” –LitHub
“Written with humor and the same type of dark, up-close-and-personal style of dialogue that Don Winslow is known for, Goldberg also mixes in some eyebrow-raising historical facts about how criminals (of all types, but especially gangsters) have shaped and changed America throughout the country’s history…Goldberg’s latest novel is a bold and daring adventure that hits hard early on and never lets up.” — The Real Book Spy
“Sal Cupertine is back – and better than ever. I love this guy.” — Lee Child, New York Times bestselling author of Night School
“Gangster Nation is a razor. It will slice you open and reveal your insides. And like the best of Tod Goldberg’s work, it’ll show you everything you are at your core.” —Brad Meltzer, New York Times bestselling author of The President’s Shadow
“Gangsterland was compelling in every way, and in Gangster Nation, its sequel, Tod Goldberg has written an enthralling portrait of consequences—emotional, physical, moral, you name it. Amid all the expertly choreographed violence and intrigue is a moving, thought-provoking story about the fluid nature of identity, spirituality, and love. I enjoyed every page.” — Vu Tran, author of Dragonfish
“GANGSTER NATION punches even harder than the excellent GANGSTERLAND did: against the backdrop of 9/11, everybody’s roughed-up and bleeding, and nobody’s hiding it well. Tod Goldberg’s weird world is getting THE SOPRANOS-good, and THE SOPRANOS-funny: he can hit you high, low, or straight in the gut. Meshugener wiseguys. It’ll make you a better killer – and a better rabbi.” — Bill Beverly, award-winning author of Dodgers.
“Tod Goldberg’s brilliant Gangster Nation is hilarious, complex, and a total page-turner. It’s also a little insane, in the best possible way.” —Lisa Lutz, New York Times bestselling author of The Passenger