For decades, authors have told the story of the American dream, of the young man turning his rags into riches, but none have done so quite like Brian Francis Slattery. His recent novel, The Family Hightower, follows generations of a family sewn together with threads of deceit, violence, and, most importantly, staggering wealth. With brilliant savagery at the heart of his tale, Slattery reveals each character’s desires to leave the past of poverty, of crime, of violence, or of the disappointment of the family name and their willingness to commit whatever act it takes to do so.
The Family Hightower flows through history, characters, and countries fluidly, gracefully jumping from one Peter Henry Hightower to the next, from the Ukrainian famine to the Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run and from Kiev to Cleveland.
Blood reigns throughout the tale: a young girl, Madalina, enters the stage as a corpse whose internal organs and eyes have been removed; scumbag Joe Rizzi, plans to dismember and scatter the body of the young daughter of the man he attempts to blackmail; a Ukrainian boy from the South Side of Cleveland quickly learns the ways of the mob and slits the throat of his first boss.
Slattery spins his story around brutality, guile, and crime on an international and local level, his characters’ decisions beating against each other with blunt force and slicing through ties of loyalty like a razor against an unguarded artery.
With quick, clever pacing and a superb narrative voice of reason, Slattery combines history, grisly crime, family ties, and the money that spurs it all along. Smart, insightful, satisfying, exceptional—a tale that captures the attention and holds it down with a loaded pistol, worried only about spilling blood on its lavish Italian shoes.
Summer Starkie lives to write and hopes to one day write to live. When she is not staying up all night to reach a word count for a paper or for NaNoWriMo, a national novel writing group, she works for the International Model United Nations Association or makes quilts with her mom.
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