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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
Did you ever read or watch that 1949 classic, Death of a Salesman? In many respects, George Mancuso is a lot like Willy Loman…a good man with dreams of success and a reality that doesn’t even come close to his dreams. As a young man, Mancuso lands a job working in the mail room of a newspaper, the Globe. He does his job well and believes his boss will eventually promote him till he becomes a member of the editorial staff. After 30 years of diligent loyalty to his job in the mail room, he finally realizes that promotion will never happen. Now, down to his last pennies, but with the gun for courage, he has a chance of a lucrative future. But could this gentle, decent soul actually kill someone? Mancuso spends an entire day postponing his decision to knock off his past boss. He scours the paper looking for other jobs, all the while reflecting through smoothly executed flashbacks on his life, his family, his co-workers, asking himself how he has come to this point. With each reflection, and as Mancuso comes closer and closer to doing the nasty deed, readers become more sympathetic, feeling and identifying with Mancuso’s angst while smiling sadly at his self-deprecating humor.
Did I like The Hitman of Avenue U? No. I loved it! Was it what I expected from the description? Not at all. It was better. Was it all about hitmen, killing, offensive language and the usual sort of thing we associate with Mafia mobsters? Not really: what was there was only enough to help readers understand how George Mancuso, churchgoer and family man, winds up with a gun in his briefcase and why he would even contemplate becoming a hitman. So if this novel by Hy Brett isn’t going to send chills down readers’ spines, then why read it? Because it’s one of the most touching and realistic books I’ve ever read and its protagonist might be a lot like you, regardless of whether you’re male or female. Through the character of Mancuso, Hy Brett has captured the life of the average person, complete with unfulfilled and unrealized dreams of success. So is the book depressing then? No. One comes away recognizing that being good to others and caring about others is more important than being rich and successful. And that is why I loved The Hitman of Avenue U. I hope you will too. This is brilliant writing.