Instead of providing a summary of the book plot, which can be read about in the in the Amazon Description above, I'll focus my review on what I liked and didn't like about it. Hopefully, this will be of help in deciding if Button Man is a book you'd be interested in reading.
Based on the first 80% of Button Man, the latest historical novel by Andrew Gross, I was fully expecting that my overall rating would be at least a solid four-star rating...but then I came to the last 50-60 pages which caused me to drop my overall rating to three stars.
On the plus side, I very much liked how Gross painted a mostly historically accurate, absorbing and interesting picture of immigrant life in NYC during the 1920's and 1930's, the garment industry and the mob's control over the unions in this industry. Further, another real strength of Gross is his presentation of a cast of both fictional and real-life characters that are richly developed, and to which the reader can quickly attach themselves. This is especially true of his many male characters -- especially Morris Rabishevsky (later changed to Raab, and who is based on the real-life experiences of one of the author's grandfathers), his brothers Sol and Harry, and some real-life Jewish mobsters such as Louis 'Lepke' Buchalter, Mendy Weiss, and Jake "Gurrah" Shapiro. And, I also liked that Gross unfolded his plot in such away that enables the reader to feel that he/she is 'right there' with these characters experiencing what they did.
As said above, based on these pluses, I was sure I'd be giving this book at least a four-star rating.
My rating dropped to three stars (i.e. Good but not Very Good) because I was very disappointed in how Gross chose to describe the main "action scene' between Morris and one of the mobsters towards the end of the book. Not only did I find this scene to be pretty preposterous, but the outcome of this scene was factually inaccurate. For me, this is largely inexcusable in a book -- albeit it a work of fiction -- that prides itself on its historical accuracy..
If you can overlook what disappointed me, I think you'll find Button Man to be an interesting, entertaining read.
BUTTON MAN is NOT the mystery/thriller that I expected. Instead it’s a quasi-historical novel about a garment manufacturer (Morris Raab)--a self-made man of great integrity who stands up to the New York Mafia and homegrown gangs of the Prohibition Era (the 1930s). Among the real historical figures appearing in the novel are Lepke Buchalter, Legs Diamond, and Dutch Schultz.
I don’t know whether there is a real person or persons that Morris Raab is based on. In the novel, Raab’s life is entangled with the mob figures because he grew up with them in Brooklyn, and because his brother Harold hangs out with, and runs errands for, the local mob.
This is a well-written book, but it isn’t the sort of thing that I enjoy as escape reading. It has serious themes that don't interest me, because I’m a mystery/thriller fan with very plebeian taste in fiction.