Book Review Mercy Row Retribution

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mrrfrontcoverfinal copyTitle: Mercy Row Retribution

Author: Harry Hallman

Genre: Historical Crime Fiction

Rating: A

While serving as a pilot during the Vietnam War, Gerry Amota, the grandson of Jacob Byrne, the head of a powerful North Philadelphia Irish crime family, seizes an opportunity to create a lucrative marijuana smuggling operation. It’s 1967 and under the secrecy of a classified military operation and with the assistance of a French Marseille Mob, who owns plantations in Cambodia, he is able to send tens of thousands of pounds of marijuana a month to Philadelphia. His grandfather’s criminal enterprise distributes the drug to a population who has developed and insatiable appetite for the marijuana.

A rival French from Paris gang tries to force Amato to buy their product and this triggers war between the Byrne family and the Paris mob.  From the steamy jungles of Vietnam and Cambodia, to the streets of Saigon, Paris and Philadelphia the ruthless actions of the Paris mob threatens to destroy the Byrne family. Gerry Amato orchestrates merciless campaign of retribution against his foes in order to save himself and his family.

In part two of Mercy Row Retribution, the third book in the Byrne family saga, it is April 1975 and South Vietnam is about to fall to the North Vietnamese communist. Gerry Amato fears that the communists will take revenge on the population and especially children, many of whom are Amerasian, at an orphanage he supported and volunteered at during his time as a Pilot. He orchestrates a rescue mission to retrieve the children and bring them to the United States. This takes him and his team into harm’s way in Thailand, across Cambodia and into worn torn Vietnam and back. The fate of 75 children and 30 adults rest squarely on Gerry’s shoulders.

Bonus Section
Mercy Row Retribution includes a bonus section of short true stories of the author and his friends’ experiences growing up in North Philly in the 1940s and 50s. This is a true reflection of what life was like for kids from working class families growing up on the streets Philadelphia.

Crime and mayhem meet in this book about questionable morals, history, and unlikely heroes. Gerry is just about the unlikeliest hero you’ll ever meet – he’s part of a crime family, he has an idea to expand the criminal enterprise by selling drugs, and while fighting out a battle over drugs with a Paris gang, his family still finds time to do nice things for people in need. A strange juxaposition, but one that works, and shows how people who we see as ‘evil’ sometimes aren’t quite so, and that there are more sides to a story. Took a while before I warmed up to Gerry, but I did start to like him halfway through the book.

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