By Sonny Girard
Sounded like fun to me. As a matter of fact, so much fun, that I decided to make Neil DiChristo a happy-go-lucky, hedonistic bookmaker who did that only because his deceased father, a respected mobster, gave him that business, and because Neil didn’t really know what else he wanted to do. It gave him money enough for a great Manhattan apartment near Central Park, good food, plenty of booze, and, last but not least, beautiful girls. The trouble with the latter, for Neil, was that he was usually attracted to females that his instinct told him were wrong for him, but there was always "something about her…" that made him throw caution to the wind and get involved. While Neil believed his strength was that women were what he knew best, in fact, they were his weakness.
Early one morning, after a night of chandelier swinging partying with his model girlfriend, Candy, FBI Agents burst into his apartment, dragged him off to a Long Island mansion, and presented him with a scenario whereby they had implanted his fingerprints on a weapon he’d never seen that murdered a mobster he never knew. Additionally, they had a confession he never made, which implicated top members of the crime family his father had aligned him with. He would not only be sentenced to life in prison, but would be marked for death.
But, there was an alternative.
All they wanted from Neil was to help them catch a Russian spy who was a diplomat at the United Nations and had survived the fall of the Soviet Union. Why Neil? Because they had failed in attempts to get an undercover operative close to the Russian, who had a penchant for gambling. With Neil’s credentials as a mob connected bookie, he was a natural to gain the Russian’s confidence and gain enough information to have him bounced back to his homeland. After first adamantly refusing to help, Neil saw no option but to agree…for a time.
So begins a journey that Neil and his circle of characters took me on. They assumed a general life of their own, changing the story in directions I had never planned and often resisted. Surprises readers will find in "Snake Eyes" were surprises for me too, as after about a third into the writing I had lost all control of events. The two females that I had thrown into the mix, a gorgeous but sexually unavailable FBI handling agent and a frumpy, but sizzlingly sexual Russian spun Neil’s life out of control and mine too. Everything I thought would happen, didn’t. Every time I thought I knew what was next, I was fooled. I’m sure readers will find the same things.
The result is simple: Neil wants nothing but to be left alone. No one else goes along with that desire. Instead, he becomes caught between three agencies and two females, is beat up and shot up, and emerges (victorious?) at the end.
One thing to note is that the mob genre novel is much like any other. If the goal is quality, then the story becomes the Christmas tree and the genre ornaments. If the ornaments are rich and beautiful, so is the tree. However, without a good strong tree the ornaments are nothing. That is what is found in too many mob novels today: ornaments without a tree. While "Snake Eyes" is not as solidly rooted in the mob as my first two novels, "Blood of Our Fathers" and "Sins of Our Sons," the organized crime ornaments are authentic, nuanced, and honest in their relationship to the story. Many of the characters are based on real characters. Names have been changed to protect the guilty.
While classic organized crime is on the wane, its importance as a part of our history, and as an entertainment vehicle is immeasurable. Learn and, most of all, enjoy.
SONNY GIRARD BIOGRAPHY:
Though born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Girard spent most of his formative years in the Red Hook and Navy Yard sections of South Brooklyn. Making little use of an IQ of close to 150, he instead chose to follow the path of the only people in that desperately poor neighborhood who seemed to have money: "wiseguys."
By the time a three-and-a-half year undercover operation by New York’s Organized Crime Control Bureau, targeted at Sonny Girard, was culminated with the arrest of seventeen, Girard was characterized by the New York Post as "…a middle echelon member" of one of New York’s five mob families. As a result of the arrest, Girard was sentenced to three years in State Prison, which he served to maximum time in Sing Sing, Dannemora, Downstate, and Arthurkill.
In 1985, Sonny Girard was convicted of racketeering, under the RICO statute, by Rudolph Giuliani’s office, and was sentenced to seven years in federal prison. During that term, which he also served maximum time on, Girard became interested in writing. Along with another inmate, who had sold a manuscript to a major publisher, Girard helped form a fiction writers’ workshop. It was during that time that Girard completed his first novel, BLOOD OF OUR FATHERS (Pocket/Simon & Schuster, hardcover, June, 1991; softcover, May, 1992).
Due to his experience in and ability to communicate about organized crime, the author has been in demand from various television shows and newspapers as an expert on various crimes, including organized crime activities. He recently appeared on Fox Network’s "National Enquirer T.V.," to analyze the authenticity of HBO’s hit show "Sopranos," Fox News Channel’s "The Edge," with Paula Zahn, to discuss John Gotti’s legacy, and "The O’Reilly Factor," regarding the disappearance of Chandra Levy, and ABC’s "Politically Incorrect," with Bill Maher, for "Mob Week." He was also called in to consult with the screenwriter of record on "Mickey Blue Eyes," starring Hugh Grant, Jeanne Tripplehorn, and James Caan. Italy’s RAI T.V. has done a biographical piece on Girard, as have Italian national newspapers "Corriere Della Sera" and "Il Tempo."
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