The gangster in America.
Most American gangsters came from Italy in the late 19th century.
In the 1880s, organized crime in Sicily began to migrate to the United States, settling mostly in New York and other major metropolitan areas, where they formed what was known as “Cosa Nostra,” (what many refer to as the American Mafia).
In the 1920s – with the emergence of Prohibition – gangland activity became prevalent in Chicago, with the formation of criminal syndicates such as The Outfit and The North Side Gang. Gunfights, drive-by shootings, coercion, intimidation, and power struggles became rampant in the streets of Chicago.
The gangland activity in Chicago came to a head on February 14, 1929, when (allegedly) Al Capone staged an assassination attempt on his rival George “Bugs” Moran and his gang in one of the bloodiest gangster attacks in history — The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.
Enter the fictional character, John “Mad Dog” Michaels. Mad Dog was the leader of a ruthless gang on Chicago’s North Side. Loosely based on the Chicago gang leaders of the 1920s, Michaels would stop at nothing to take control of the city. Unfortunately, his fight against rival gangs eventually led to his demise.
The first book in the Stolen Lives trilogy, set in Chicago in the 1920s, told the story of Mad Dog’s rise and fall. Author Mary Ellen Lisciandra, inspired by the St Valentine’s Day Massacre and the mob activities in the early 20th century, wrote this first book – simply called STOLEN LIVES, in 2012.
Now, Lisciandra is finishing the second of the trilogy, JOHNNY RICO (due to be released this summer). While STOLEN LIVES focused on the gangsters and their lifestyles of greed and violence; JOHNNY RICO deals more with crooked cops and corruption within the system.
While the first book was set in Chicago in the 1920s, for JOHNNY RICO we move forward 10 years, and north 90 miles, to Milwaukee in the 1930s.
JOHNNY RICO tells the story of Mad Dog’s son. Having been thrown out of his prep school for trouble with his fellow students and school staff members – who were constantly taunting him about his father – our lead character sets off to Milwaukee to try to exact revenge on the Chicago mob (and their branch in Wisconsin).
John Brennan Michaels, in an effort to banish the demons who haunt him, assumes the pseudonym “Johnny Rico,” and enlists the help of Sean Gilmartin – a once-crooked cop, who is seeking his own salvation. Along with a new, crusading district attorney, they wage a campaign to seek redemption for Johnny and to help him restore honor and justice to his family’s name. In his way of thinking, honor could only be restored by way of revenge.
In the 1930s, with the repeal of Prohibition, mobsters now focus their attention on new businesses. In Wisconsin, dairy farmers are looking to unionize to help deal with financial problems. However, they are seeking to form unions without involving the mob.
Enraged, the gang leaders from Chicago send a couple men down to Milwaukee to try to take control of the milk industry. The main goal of these thugs is to send a message to these renegade farmers – to let them know who’s in charge.
Through intimidation and fear, the mobsters release their wrath on the poor farmers.
When they learn of the setbacks that the farmers are suffering, Johnny Rico, Sean Gilmartin, and the DA realize they must turn up the heat. Now, not only are they seeking redemption for Rico; but they are also trying to save their city.
But, for Johnny Rico, the main goal is revenge. However, revenge is a tricky game – because whenever you are fighting monsters, you should see to it that in the process, you do not become a monster yourself.
If you have not yet read the first book, STOLEN LIVES, order your copy today. It can be purchased by clicking the button below. Or, you can order the book from Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com. It is also available in e-book form through Kindle. And, be sure to look for JOHNNY RICO this summer.