The year is 1960. Benny Lament is a talented and popular songwriter, who only wants to look out for himself. Esther Mine is a singer, looking for her big break. They meet, fall in love, and make great music together. Simple right? Not at all!
Benny’s father, Jack Lamento, is a former boxer who works for his brother-in-law, Saul Vitale. Saul just happens to be an Italian mob boss in New York. Benny’s mother, who had a beautiful voice, died when Benny was young. Needless to say, Benny’s upbringing was unusual. He saw things that no kid should see. As an adult, he strives to stay away from the family business. When he is back in New York, his father seeks him out and encourages him to watch a black singer named Esther Mine who sings in a band with her brothers called Minefield.
Benny and Esther quickly realize they make a good songwriting and singing pair. Through some of Benny’s connections, Minefield’s career quickly takes off. One of the songs they sing is a ballot about a fighter named Bo Johnson, who is Esther’s birth father. Unfortunately, there are very powerful people who don’t want them singing together, especially about Bo Johnson. Benny knows he should walk away, but he is quickly falling in love with Esther.
Between politicians and mob bosses, things get really complicated. Hitmen appear out of nowhere and people are killed, shot at, or badly beaten. A small company that did business with Benny suddenly burns down. A record company executive gets threats after meeting with them. Benny and Esther are arrested for inciting a riot just for singing a song. A bomb threat is made during another concert, causing more disruption. Benny must decide if he is going to join the mob in order to protect Esther and her brothers, while at the same time wondering if it is the mob causing all the problems.
The whole thing is one crazy mess that I absolutely loved! I was able to figure out who killed Esther’s mother about midway through, but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment.
5-Stars. Amy Harmon is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. She interweaves fictional and historical characters in a totally believable way. And she writes love stories that I actually enjoy. This novel was published on March 16, 2021. I listened to the audiobook which was 14 hours and 52 minutes long.