The Last Jewish Gangster: The Middle Years
by David Larson
SYNOPSIS – The second installment of this saga of gangland lore follows gregarious gangster, Michael Hardy, further down his twisted criminal path. The Last Jewish Gangster, The Middle Years, starts in 1968 with Hardy sentenced to twelve years in the world’s most dangerous prison in Mexico after taking the rap for his mother’s counterfeiting scheme, hoping to have finally earned her love and respect.
Once he’s released from prison, Hardy returns to Brooklyn and tries to go straight, but drifts back into a world of crime. He gets Sammy “the Bull” Gravano to join his crew to pull major heists like kidnapping drug lords for million-dollar ransoms, and robbing cop bag men. To evade the law, he goes to Europe and ends up in Israel where he works on a Kibbutz, touching the hem of his Jewish heritage.
Hardy devolves further into a gangster’s life when he returns to Brooklyn, running a finger of the Mob’s Five-Fingers International Car Theft Ring, participating in a stolen airline ticket scam, and doing fourteen hits for the Mob, still hoping his mother will take notice. When she gets busted for the car theft ring, she turns him in to reduce her time.
Crushed by his mother’s callous self-interest, Hardy ends up cutting a deal with Rudy Giuliani to nab a dirty cop to reduce his time and negotiate his place in the witness protection program. Relocating to LA under an alias, it doesn’t take long for Hardy to land a gig as muscle for a Hollywood studio and meet his future wife, a sex worker who stole from his mother. The lines between love and revenge begin to blur.
MY THOUGHTS – I really like this type of gangster book, and this one didn’t disappoint. The second in a series of three, it’s one wild story, driven by his relationship or lack of one, with his mother. Michael Hardy goes above and beyond. He builds his cred as a mega-gangster trying to gain the unattainable. This kept me up late reading.
PUBLISHER – WildBlue Press – 369 pages
PUBLICATION DATE – Aug 16th, 2022
MY RATING – 5/5 STARS
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Over the course of two-and-a-half years, I met weekly with Michael Hardy in his Section-8 studio apartment in San Diego, up until his death. We were introduced by his therapist, Dr. El. For the first several months Michael told me what he did, the stories often unbelievable. When he gained enough trust in me, he told me why he acted with such fearlessness and committed heinous crimes. It was all done to impress his mother, Shirley, so that maybe she would love him. Shirley rejected Michael after his birth to be raised by her parents, so she could run with Bugsy Siegel and other powerful men in the Mob, rather than raise her son to be a good man.
Confined to a wheelchair most of the time we met, because he lost half of both feet to diabetes, this 325-pound aging gangster regaled his stories with such gusto, he often slipped into the present tense with his recall. I tried to capture that in his story as he trudged through decades of crime, from coast to coast, north to south, to Mexico, even Europe, and the Middle East.
The meetings with Hardy were sometimes useless, Michael wrapped around the axle of some injustice that befell him—car impounded because it had expired registration, arguments with neighbors over the use of community washing machines, Catholic Charities not coming through, Jewish Family Services late with their support, doctors not worth a damn, dentists not much better, and run-ins with local businesses who barred him after numerous infractions. His long-suffering wife was always at his side, caring for him, and loving him for the man he became. Raised Jewish, Michael discovered Christ in 1974 while in federal prison in Connecticut, then believed in Christ in 1991 when he appeared to Michael in his cell. But don’t for one minute think he was a Christian. He was a Jew who believed in Christ.`
The unpublished version of his story has been optioned three times in Hollywood over the past five years, to develop into a TV series or movie. Since I also write screenplays, I’ve developed scripts for both. They’ve been circulating slowly, the pandemic causing delays.