Gangsterland

Sal Cupertine is a legendary hit man for the Chicago Mafia, known for his ability to get in and out of a crime without a trace. Until now, that is. His first-ever mistake forces Sal to botch an assassination, killing three undercover FBI agents in the process. This puts too much heat on Sal, and he knows this botched job will be his death sentence to the Mafia. So he agrees to their radical idea to save his own skin. A few surgeries and some intensive training later, and Sal Cupertine is gone, disappeared into the identity of Rabbi David Cohen. Leading his growing congregation in Las Vegas, overseeing the population and the temple and the new cemetery, Rabbi Cohen feels his wicked past slipping away from him, surprising even himself as he spouts quotes from the Torah or the Old Testament. Yet, as it turns out, the Mafia isn’t quite done with him yet. Soon the new cemetery is being used as both a money and body-laundering scheme for the Chicago family. And that rogue FBI agent on his trail, seeking vengeance for the murder of his three fellow agents, isn’t going to let Sal fade so easily into the desert.

Gangsterland (Counterpoint Press) is the wickedly dark and funny new novel by a writer at the height of his power – a morality tale set in a desert landscape as ruthless and barren as those who inhabit it.

“For many of us, “The Godfather,” book or movie, ushered us into a second boyhood, teaching that the incorrigible vitality of a first-rate gangster story could temporarily inoculate us against adult sanity. For readers of a like mind, Tod Goldberg’s “Gangsterland” will arrive as a gloriously original Mafia novel: 100 percent unhinged about the professionally unhinged.”  New York Times Sunday Book Review

“This ribbing of contemporary Jewish life — or taste-challenged American affluence in general — runs through the book, though it’s mostly gentle. The book’s real bite comes from its exposure of corrupt religious authority, and the story is at its best when it’s mocking our unquestioning acceptance of whatever morsels of wisdom our leaders decide to feed us. (For all we know, they could moonlight as hit men. Or writers.)…. Gangsterland… is a modern story, written for readers who like their imaginary characters to live in the real world.” — Los Angeles Review of Books 

“In Gangsterland, author Tod Goldberg has, within the well-elbowed constraints of the conventional crime narrative envelope, written an exceedingly sage and witty thriller that reveals no chinks in the armor, no narrative lines to nowhere, and with a “look Ma, no hands” ease of invention that would have Elmore Leonard turning over in his grave to see who has taken his place as one of the best writers around.” — The Rap Sheet (Best of 2014)

“Although there are Jewish themes that run throughout the book, it’s not just for Jewish readers — at its heart, it’s a deeply funny crime novel about the competing desires for justice and survival — and the battle between doing what’s right and doing what’s necessary.” — Jewish Journal

“In his plotting, dialogue and empathy for the bad guys, Goldberg aspires to the heights of Elmore Leonard. For those who miss the master, “Gangsterland” is a high-grade substitute.” —New York Times 

“****A cleverly spun novel that forced me to abandon my wiseguy moratorium. Goldberg has an amusing flair for contemporary hard-boil, and he knows his crime and crime-fighting procedures.” —Las Vegas Weekly 

“Goldberg’s new book is clever bordering on wise, like Get Shorty on antacid.” Los Angeles Magazine

“Clearly influenced by the great Elmore Leonard, Goldberg puts his own dry comic spin on the material…Clever plotting, a colorful cast of characters, and priceless situations make this comedic crime novel an instant classic.” —Kirkus, Starred Review

“Goldberg injects Talmudic wisdom and a hint of Springsteen into the workings of organized crime and FBI investigative techniques and makes it all work splendidly.”—Publishers Weekly Starred Review

“Sal’s transformation—and intermittent edification—into Rabbi Cohen is brilliantly rendered, and Goldberg’s careening plot, cast of memorably dubious characters, and mordant portrait of Las Vegas make this one of the year’s best hard-boiled crime novels.”—Booklist, Starred Review

“Gangsterland explores the question: What would happen if a hitman were forced to fake being religious?…That led to the nuances of Gangsterland — to not only become a page turner, but also to expand beyond that…into an environment of faith and spirituality.” — San Francisco Chronicle

“One of the most compelling, and repulsive, crime-fiction protagonists in a long time.”— The Forward

“A mafia hit gone wrong. An undercover getaway. A nice Jewish congregation in Las Vegas. Tod Goldberg’s wickedly dark and hilarious new novel will remind your bro of everything he loves about Walter White (or any Coen brothers’ antihero, for that matter).” —PureWow

“Longtime mafia hit man Sal Cupertine knows that once somebody “dictates the terms of your survival … you’re a dead man.” By that measure it would seem that Sal, the protagonist in Tod Goldberg’s wise and witty new novel, Gangsterland, is as dead as they come…In Goldberg’s story, wisdom is tempered with humor and irony.” — January Magazine 

“Brilliant find Tod Goldberg delivers a successful thriller with his Gangsterland. It is a story that reminds us of the better work of the late Elmore Leonard, full of witty dialogue and brilliant plot twists. ****” —de Volkskrant  

“Phenomenon of the week. An heir to Elmore Leonard and Raymond Chandler. The most original, exciting and funny crime novel. ”  —de Standaard

“As sharp as a straight razor. But a lot more fun. Count me a huge fan.” —Lee Child, New York Times bestselling author of Personal: A Jack Reacher Novel

“Gangsterland is rich with complex and meaty characters, but its greatest strength is that it never pulls a punch, never holds back, and never apologizes for life’s absurdities. If this novel were a person, you could ask it for a bookie.” —Brad Meltzer, bestselling author of The Fifth Assassin 

“Let’s get this part out of the way: Gangsterland is a thriller, and provides a crackling good read for any fan of the genre. But the truth is, to call this book merely a thriller is inaccurate. It’s also a whip-smart comedy, a sublime morality play, and a gleefully blasphemous investigation of what and why we worship. There’s something for everyone here. Just make sure you set aside a good chunk of time, because once you start reading you won’t want to stop.” —Ron Currie, Jr., author of God is Dead

“Tod Goldberg is a one-of-a-kind writer, and this is his best novel to date. Harrowing, funny, wise, and heretical,Gangsterland is everything a thriller should be.”—T. Jefferson Parker, author of Full Measure 

”The Mafia plus the Torah makes for a darkly funny and suspenseful morality tale…[Goldberg] can spin a good yarn.” —The Millions

“Gangsterland is Tod Goldberg at the height of his hilarious and incisive and hell-bent powers as a writer of who we are and what we thought we wanted and how we tried to stay alive in America —if we were insanely funny and contemplative hit men. No one does Vegas, the desert, money, and mayhem like Goldberg. I stayed up six nights in a row reading, unable to put this book down because I couldn’t wait to see how he’d play each card.” —Susan Straight, author of Between Heaven and Here

“Infinitely readable, infinitely funny, and infinitely better than anything else you’ll read this year!” —Craig Johnson, author of the Walt Longmire Mysteries and the basis for A&E’s hit series Longmire

“Just when you thought the mafia novel was dead, Tod Goldberg breathes new life into it. Gangsterland, the best mafia novel in years, is a dark, funny, and smart page-turning crime story. It’s also a moving, thoughtful meditation on ethics, religion, family, and a culture that eats itself. I loved this book.” —Sara Gran, author of Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway

“With his eye for human detail and trademark wit, as dry as a desert breeze, Tod Goldberg charts Sal Cupertine’s unlikely transition from stone-cold mob hitman to Las Vegas rabbi. This tale of witness relocation-by-mob—part Elmore Leonard, part Theatre of the Absurd—is a compelling examination of salvation, which comes in various guises and moves in elusive ways. A wholly unique tale from a wholly unique voice.” —Gregg Hurwitz, New York Times bestselling author of Don’t Look Back

“Tod Goldberg has long been one of the most interesting writers around, and Gangsterland is his biggest and best book so far.” —Thomas Perry