Sherry Clark Thomas tells the story of her late husband (they married each other twice:His sixth and ninth marriages and her second and fourth marriages) from his birth to death.The plot isn’t spun of imagination.Joe Thomas did enough in his life that there story after story could be told.His life moved at a quick pace.The man did almost any crime that could be imaginable starting from helping his Italian immigrant father and uncle in the bootlegging business but later moving on to drug dealing, professional arson, drug smuggling, robbery, pimping – and the guy was even a gigolo at times in his life.Joe Thomas was a petty criminal and a biggie all rolled into one.He had an immense capacity for cruelty to others, especially women, and he abandoned pretty much anyone who tried to plant roots in his life.Thus Sherry Clark Thomas’s opening of the story where Joe’s soul is waiting for God to make a decision (Which way for Joe?Up or down?Heaven or Hell?) seems in hindsight to be irrelevant.Assuming there is a reward in the afterlife then this cruel and bad man was clearly not deserving.
City within a City moves along and for the most part the writing style is good.I found myself often compelled to feel empathy with Joe Thomas’s victims but at other times they were deserving of what they got as well.If you play with a snake then don’t be shocked when you are bitten.
For my tastes there are two weaknesses in the story; on technical and the other is style.For the technical there was an editing issue which is that who ever edited the book quite often got the quotation marks off in the wrong order. I found this rather distracting to tell the truth.The other was that the story in the end became a sad personal lamentation and rather than being a neutral storyteller, as Sherry Clark Thomas had been most of the book, she switched gears and bared her chest.The book ceased to be about Joe but rather Sherry’s loss.I found this to put a real dampener at the finale.I also found the title to be ill fitting.Apparently “city with a city” is a term used by prisoners to refer to the prison itself.Most of the story though did not take place in a prison.
That having been said, the book can be described as quite unique and an overall enjoyable read.I never learned to like Joe Thomas.He did some absolutely low class things in his life and really seemed to care for no one but himself.But his character flaws keep you interested in what’s happening next.If you are interested in the life of a criminal then this is a very good book for you.
The above review was contributed by: Gary Dale Cearley: Gary Dale is an expatriate American who chooses to write about controversial material. His subject matter tends to run the gamut from historical subjects to biography and even humor. Originally from Arkansas, he has spent several years in Korea as well as Vietnam and is now living in Thailand. Click Here to read an interview with Gary. Click Here to read Gary's reviews.
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