Cut Numbers. Nick Tosches. Back Bay Books (Little, Brown, and Co.) 2001.
Tosches tells a parallel story of two characters. Both are hard men living on the fringes of crime. They know the big hitters in the crime world, but live and work in the margins. One is Louis, a shylock, handing out loans and collecting payments every week. The other is Joe Brusher, a killer. Their two stories run separately, and involve some of the same supporting players, but they never meet.
Each man is approaching middle-age, feeling the years of effort, and the lack of success. Both welcome a chance to make their fortunes. Louis especially can barely make a living, fights with his girlfriend, and feels the effects of a gangster mid-life crisis.
The novel is rich in colorful, realistic characters, gritty dialogue, and believable detail on the life of low - level crooks. Joe makes a good menacing figure, and we do get some of his point of view. But it is Louie who is the main character. We spend more time with him, get most of the story through his eyes. He is not always a likable character, but Tosches makes him a sympathetic one.