I’ve never been to Vegas, or Atlantic City. I don’t like gambling and can’t imagine wasting my time and money on casino thugs. I also don’t like J. Edgar Hoover and think he was just a different kind of thug.
Put all that together, and it’ll be obvious that a book set in Atlantic City and focusing on Hoover and vice lords is not going to be the story for me. Yet Low Light by Stanley J. Cutler was an enlightening — and fun — read.
Elise Connors, the publicist from Outskirts Press who sent me a PDF of the book, described it this way:
A fast-paced thriller about bootleggers, gamblers, gun molls, flappers, IRA gunmen, and anti-Semitic sea captains.
In 1929, top gangsters agreed to cooperate with each other during a week-long meeting in Atlantic City, the sin city of the Jazz Age.
In this richly detailed historical novel, Meyer Lansky and the infamous political boss, Nucky Johnson, enlist an ex-boxer turned studio photographer to take blackmail pictures of the only man who stands in their way – FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.
But the story is really about the photographer, Al, who’s engaged to take the blackmail pictures. His wife, Ida, is Meyer Lansky’s cousin, so in exchange for agreeing to take pictures inside Hoover’s hotel room, Al’s going to get a prime location for a vacation photography studio on the boardwalk. Al’s never been a part of the crime circles Meyer runs around in, much less Hoover’s only marginally legal antics, but he’s going to have to navigate through all of it in order to keep his studio and stay out of jail.
I have to admit that reading a PDF copy of a book on my laptop is not ideal, but when I took a trip for work not long ago I flew through this book in no time. If you like historical fiction, especially if you’re like me and really dislike J. Edgar Hoover, you might just enjoy seeing how some gangsters and one formerly innocent photographer manage to take Atlantic City off the FBI’s map.
Book #8 in the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge