By: Michael Dineen

Many a poor soul has been led down the tangled path to riches and glory.  A temptation which is just too hard to resist.  This is often due to the unbearable nature of their own life, and the illusion of easy wealth which may lie just around the corner.  They will choose to abandon all they once knew to secure a better position in life, and grasp onto the materialistic benefits which such wealth can bring.  Fast cars, designer suits and life in the fast lane!  And one of the most popular ways to achieve such status is through the drug trade.  Even with all of its inherent dangers, the allure of fast cash and a new way of life which dealing in narcotics can promise to deliver, is too difficult for some to pass up.  In his book Suburban Gangsters author Michael Dineen provides a first-hand account of this very scenario.  A relentless journey into the seedy and ruthless underbelly of the criminal drug culture on Long Island… and as readers we have a front row seat!

The novel follows the exploits of young 18 year-old Patrick Hunter.  Having grown up in Long Island New York, he has a very shaky relationship with his demanding father.  Feeling unsupported and somewhat abandoned, Patrick is determined to make his own way in life.  Being a karate expert, Patrick becomes immersed in physical fitness.  Along with his good friend Jake, the pair begin to use steroids to supplement their training and feed their growing aggression.  They soon come to realize that they are deeply feared and respected in the neighborhood.  This is a realization which will directly take them onto the devious path of the illegal narcotics trade.  They are soon selling illegal drugs and taking in oodles of cash each day.  Cocaine, pills, steroids…and the list goes on.  Anyone foolish enough to get on the wrong side of them, or fail to pay up, is quickly pummelled and made an example of for others.  Patrick was on top of the world.  What more could a juiced up 18 year-old want?  What follows however is an exceptional lesson in karma.  Will Patrick be able to make it through this merciless new world still intact?  Or is there something more perilous waiting for him in the shadows?

Make no mistake… this is a powerful novel.  The fact that it is all actually a true account of the author’s life makes it even more shocking.  It would be quite entertaining as a fictional story…but is mesmerizing as an autobiography.  The pace of the book is blistering as it hops from one situation to the next in this portrayal of the drug world.  As readers, we are exposed to drug dealing, armed robberies, loan sharking, prostitution and law enforcement ineptitude.  Basically, nothing is out of bounds- and it works!  The first person narration gives an authentic and meaningful feel to the unveiling of events.

While Suburban Gangsters  is definitely an action filled page turner… it is much more than that.  It is also a stark warning for others to not stray down this path.  While the allure and temptations of “life in the fast lane” may be overwhelming- it is a perilous direction to take.  For instance, when the various individuals in the book are analyzed, we can see that they all suffered immensely.  Whether it was due to painful addiction, soul-sucking incarceration and even death.  Nobody comes out on top and everyone has to pay a price.  Drugs were the catalyst for everyone’s downfall.  Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

Overall, I found this to be a memorable and very engaging book.  The author’s writing style is quite unique.  At times it feels as if a series of events are being rhymed off in almost a list-like or stream of consciousness fashion.  While this may not appeal to everyone, I found that it works in this book!  The story virtually has its own personality.

4 out of 5 Shocking Stars for this one!  ****