When Maria needs help to save her business from mobsters, she turns to Skin, a shadow of a man who lives in the dark. But Maria wants to know if Skin is the right man for the job so he tells the story of Sean O’Donnell.
O’Donnell is New York Irish who grew up in the Bronx. When still young his father disappears, so his mother is forced to perform sexual favours in order to survive. Before long Sean is drawn into the mob world, stealing cars for Vinny Macho, a low level gang member. However he falls for Nicole, a troubled wild child – unfortunately her father is the mob boss Don Mario. The Don tries to dissuade O’Donnell from seeing his daughter, applying ever-increasing pressure to ensure the message gets through.
There was a lot to like about Skin Games. The sense of place in gritty New York was well drawn, the characters were generally strong (O’Donnell himself was a good protagonist) and the dialogue interesting. The story moved along at a decent pace as we watched O’Donnell back himself further and further into a corner because of his strong will and deep-seated need to never break a promise, despite the heap of trouble it ultimately gets him into.
First and foremost O’Donnell is loyal, initially to the mob (the police put him under pressure, but he won’t give) and then to Nicole (who applies her own demands on O’Donnell with her behaviour). Skin Games is also about friendships but most surprising was the gradual realization that underlying the mob life and violence this is ultimately a love story.
This was a good book, well written and enjoyable.
Rating? Four Stars
Would add this to my bookshelf? Yes