A crime boss is brought down by treachery and jealousy in this retelling of Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello.
The Commission crime syndicate is headed locally by Joe Hamlet, who oversees a group of five clans that’s fairly small but still ripe for takeover. That’s the aim of Othello Moore, a new arrival who, with his crew, brutally slaughters Commission players. Convinced Othello couldn’t pull it off without backing from an insider, Joe vows to discover the culprit. Othello gives up the traitor in return for a seat at the table, creating an uneasy alliance. Things get even more tangled when Othello and Mona, Joe’s daughter, fall in love and a succession crisis looms in the Commission. In different ways, these events drive a wedge between Othello and his chief lieutenants, Cassio and Macklin Bethel, aka Cash and Mac. Resentful at being passed over for promotion, Mac hatches a scheme to stoke Othello’s insecurities and convince him Mona has cheated on him with Cash, a good-looking player. Meanwhile, Aphrodite, Joe’s wife, strives for the success of their son, Adonis, who is secretly gay and whom Joe considers weak. Plots and counterplots turn fortune’s wheel toward tragedy. In his follow-up to Gods & Gangsters (2020), SLMN makes only passing reference to that novel. This outing also delivers blood, violence, and hardcore sex, sometimes all in the same scene. The writing is skillfully evocative, and readers will appreciate the excitement of a high-stakes power play. Some may be turned off by the cruelty and the rampant sexual humiliation, nearly always of women (“Mac grabbed a handful of Milk’s hair and slapped her across the face with his dick”). The Shakespeare connection, which includes allusions to such plays as Macbeth and Hamlet as well as Othello, makes for intriguing parallels with their themes of gory revenge, corrosive jealousy, and vaulting ambition.
Bloodthirsty and thrumming, an original take on the source material.
Pub Date: today
Page Count: 288
Publisher: Kingston Imperial
Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2020