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A Novel

List Price: $15.95

September 8, 2015 | Paperback | 6 x 9, 464 Pages | ISBN 9781619025783
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Shortlisted for the 2014 North American Hammett Prize

Sal Cupertine is a legendary hit man for the Chicago Mafia, known for his ability to get in and out of a crime without a trace. Until now, that is. His first-ever mistake forces Sal to botch an assassination, killing three undercover FBI agents in the process. This puts too much heat on Sal, and he knows this botched job will be his death sentence to the Mafia. So he agrees to their radical idea to save his own skin.

A few surgeries and some intensive training later, and Sal Cupertine is gone, disappeared into the identity of Rabbi David Cohen. Leading his growing congregation in Las Vegas, overseeing the population and the temple and the new cemetery, Rabbi Cohen feels his wicked past slipping away from him, surprising even himself as he spouts quotes from the Torah or the Old Testament. Yet, as it turns out, the Mafia isn’t quite done with him yet. Soon the new cemetery is being used as both a money and body-laundering scheme for the Chicago family. And that rogue FBI agent on his trail, seeking vengeance for the murder of his three fellow agents, isn’t going to let Sal fade so easily into the desert.

Gangsterland is the wickedly dark and funny new novel by a writer at the height of his power – a morality tale set in a desert landscape as ruthless and barren as those who inhabit it.

TOD GOLDBERG is the author of the crime-tinged novels Living Dead Girl, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Fake Liar Cheat, and the popular Burn Notice series. His essay “When They Let Them Bleed” first published by Hobart was selected by Cheryl Strayed for inclusion in Best American Essays 2013. He is also the author of the story collections Simplify, a 2006 finalist for the SCIBA Award for Fiction and winner of the Other Voices Short Story Collection Prize, and Other Resort Cities. His short fiction has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, twice receiving Special Mention for the Pushcart Prize as well as being named a Distinguished Story of the Year in the 2009 Best American Mystery Stories. His essays, journalism, and criticism appear regularly in many publications, including the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and Las Vegas CityLife and have been featured in Salon, Wall Street Journal, E!, and Jewcy among many others.


“… Tod Goldberg’s Gansterland will arrive as a gloriously original Mafia novel: 100 percent unhinged about the professionall unhinged…. [T]orridly funny…. The novel swells with a spiritual but jazzy tone…” —New York Times Book Review

“In his plotting, dialogue and empathy for the bad guys, Goldberg aspires to the heights of Elmore Leonard. For those who miss the master, Gangsterland is a high-grade substitute.” —New York Times

“Unlike many of his literary forebears and contemporaries, Goldberg, it seems, has not been seized by self-evisceration or self-doubt. There’s no scolding messaging about universalism here, just respect for a group that looks after its own… As Rabbi Cohen observes, who wants to hear the same old stories? For those who don’t, there is Gangsterland.” —Los Angeles Review of Books

“… [a] cleverly spun novel that forced me to abandon my wiseguy moratorium. Goldberg has an amusing flair for contemporary hard-boil, and he knows his crime and crime-fighting procedures.” —Las Vegas Weekly (four out of five stars)

“…hilarious and fast-paced…. This wickedly dark and morbidly funny new novel by Goldberg is a morality tale set in a desert landscape as ruthless and barren as those who inhabit it.” —Nevada Magazine

“The setup is blackly comic, the plotting a tad rococo, the payoff grim but sly…. Goldberg’s new book is clever bordering on wise, like Get Shorty on antacid.” —Los Angeles Magazine

“Clearly influenced by the great Elmore Leonard, Goldberg puts his own dry comic spin on the material, with perhaps a bit more self-reflection on Sal/David’s part than Leonard would allow…. Clever plotting, a colorful cast of characters and priceless situations make this comedic crime novel an instant classic.” —Kirkus Starred Review

“Goldberg injects Talmudic wisdom and a hint of Springsteen into the workings of organized crime and FBI investigative techniques and makes it all work splendidly.” —Publishers Weekly Starred Review

“Sal’s transformation—and intermittent edification—into Rabbi Cohen is brilliantly rendered, and Goldberg’s careening plot, cast of memorably dubious characters, and mordant portrait of Las Vegas make this one of the year’s best hard-boiled crime novels.”—Booklist Starred Review

“The Mafia plus the Torah makes for a darkly funny and suspenseful morality tale… The man can spin a good yarn.” —Edan Lepucki, The Millions

“As sharp as a straight razor. But a lot more fun. Count me a huge fan.”Lee ChildNew York Times bestselling author of Personal: A Jack Reacher Novel

“Let’s get this part out of the way: Gangsterland is a thriller, and provides a crackling good read for any fan of the genre. But the truth is, to call this book merely a thriller is inaccurate. It’s also a whip-smart comedy, a sublime morality play, and a gleefully blasphemous investigation of what and why we worship. There’s something for everyone here. Just make sure you set aside a good chunk of time, because once you start reading you won’t want to stop.” —Ron Currie. Jr., author of God is Dead

“Tod Goldberg is a one-of-a-kind writer, and this is his best novel to date.  Harrowing, funny, wise, and heretical, Gangsterland is everything a thriller should be.” —T. Jefferson Parker, author of Full Measure

Gangsterland is rich with complex and meaty characters, but its greatest strength is that it never pulls a punch, never holds back, and never apologizes for life’s absurdities. If this novel were a person, you could ask it for a bookie.” —Brad Meltzer, bestselling author of The Fifth Assassin

Gangsterland is Tod Goldberg at the height of his hilarious and incisive and hell-bent powers as a writer of who we are and what we thought we wanted and how we tried to stay alive in America —if we were insanely funny and contemplative hit men. No one does Vegas, the desert, money, and mayhem like Goldberg. I stayed up six nights in a row reading, unable to put this book down because I couldn’t wait to see how he’d play each card.” —Susan Straight, author of Between Heaven and Here

“Just when you thought the mafia novel was dead, Tod Goldberg breathes new life into it. Gangsterland, the best mafia novel in years, is a dark, funny, and smart page-turning crime story. It’s also a moving, thoughtful meditation on ethics, religion, family, and a culture that eats itself. I loved this book.” —Sara Gran, author of Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway

“With his eye for human detail and trademark wit, as dry as a desert breeze, Tod Goldberg charts Sal Cupertine’s unlikely transition from stone-cold mob hitman to Las Vegas rabbi. This tale of witness relocation-by-mob—part Elmore Leonard, part Theatre of the Absurd—is a compelling examination of salvation, which comes in various guises and moves in elusive ways. A wholly unique tale from a wholly unique voice.” —Gregg Hurwitz, New York Times bestselling author of Don’t Look Back

“Tod Goldberg has long been one of the most interesting writers around, and Gangsterland is his biggest and best book so far.” —Thomas Perry, author of Butcher Boy

“Infinitely readable, infinitely funny, and infinitely better than anything else you’ll read this year!” —Craig Johnson, author of the Walt Longmire Mysteries and the basis for A&E’s hit series Longmire

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