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The Carpenter from Montreal

I found this book on somebody’s list of best books so far this year. It’s the story of two brothers, prohibition-era gangsters in a NE American city. One of the brothers meets up with a bootlegger/gangster/fixer in Montreal while running Canadian booze south. This guy is known as The Carpenter, who provides advice for the protagonist and later becomes his employer.

I enjoyed the way this book told the story from the point of view of a small group of individuals, one of whom happens to be dead. It’s a challenge for a dead person to tell a story, I suppose, but reading the book, it seems quite reasonable. I think reading a story from different points of view can be a very engaging approach because as a reader, I have to work to form my own opinions by reading the various points of view, making my own assessment of the characters, and developing my own understanding after reading the story from different voices.

The book offers some insight into crime within the social complex of a city, and how major events (like a world war) affect the criminal underbelly, in this case in both the American city and Montreal. The telling of the story, though seems distant, which is curious since the tellers – and in particular the dead character – are part of the action. I thought the story was interesting enough but I had difficulty developing any empathy for any characters in the book. It felt like I was far on the outside looking in.

I enjoyed sections of this book, particular passages and insights, but I have to stop short of recommending this one. I’d be interested in comments from others who have read The Carpenter from Montreal. What did you think?

Next up is Running, a novel by Cara Hoffman.

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