Thursday, December 11, 2008

Julie's Review: The Gold Coast

Summary: What happens to a priggish, WASPy, disillusioned Wall Street lawyer when a Mafia crime boss moves into the mansion next door in his posh Long Island neighborhood? He ends up representing the gangster on a murder rap and even perjures himself so the mafiosostet lc can be released on $5 million bail. That's the premise of DeMille's ( The Charm School ) bloated, unpersuasive thriller. Attorney John Sutter has problems that would daunt even Fitzgerald's Jay Gatsby. His marriage is crumbling, despite kinky sex games with his self-centered wife, Susan, who's the mistress of his underworld client Frank Bellarosa. The IRS is after Sutter, and his law firm wants to dump him. As a sardonic morality tale of one man's self-willed disintegration, the impact is flattened by its elitist narrator's patrician tones. A comic courtroom scene and some punches at the end, however, redeem the novel somewhat.

Review: I read The Gold Coast ages ago when it was first released and loved it. I wish I could say the same thing for this read. I found it enjoyable enough but I think it could have been about 250 pages shorter. John Sutter is a perfect narrator. Not once did I want to see the story through another character's eyes. He's got a great wit about him and the sarcasm is perfect. He tells it like it is, or at least how he sees it, but as a reader you believe him because he's telling you his story and how he now sees it.

Basically, John is bored. He's going through a mid-life crisis and when the Mafia Don moves in next door, John finds his outlet for his boredom. Mr. Frank Bellarosa is an interesting character and he intrigues John. Looking back on it, John can see that it was supposed to be that way. The way Frank drew him into his life and ended up using him. John's married to a blue blood lady named Susan Stanhope Sutter. Frankly, I didn't like her. I found her annoying and self-involved. She was rich and didn't do much but ride her horses and ride other things. It's pretty obvious from the get go what's going to happen because John's reflecting on this period in his life but it's still interesting to see how it unfolds.

I found myself fascinated with the Mafia Don but not to the same degree that John and Susan were because well as a reader you know from the beginning that this guy is T-R-O-U-B-L-E. Not just because he's a Mafia Don but just because you know it's not going to end nicely for John and Susan. For all of Susan's faults, John does love her.

What I found interesting is how this book was published 18 years ago and so many of the stereotypes are still true today. Granted it wasn't that long ago but you hope to see a bit more progress. What fascinated me was the life on the Gold Coast and how people with "old" money act and treat others. How even when they are broke they'll hold onto the family estate.

Overall, I enjoyed entering the world of the rich elite again and reading John Sutter's story. I'm definitely looking forward to reading the sequel The Gate House, which is really why I re-read it now. As I said earlier, I think it could have been told in less pages. It's really the only downfall of the book.

If you are looking for an entertaining book involving the mafia and the downfall of a man, then this is the read for you.

Final Take: 3.75/5


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