When Lenny Ovitz married jeweler's daughter, Paulina Levine, it was a step-up the rung of the social ladder. Lies, deceit and late nights followed. After two years, Paulina wanted a get. [A Jewish divorce document to be presented by a husband to his wife, freeing her to marry another]. In all probability, Paulie would take Lenny to the cleaners. Lenny had two choices; convince Paulie of his loving, sometimes heroic efforts or have her wacked. [Cheaper than a lawyer, no need to divide assets.]
Lenny Ovitz and Gabe Zoller were extortion business partners. They were heavily in debt for a loan needed to purchase a tenement block containing some dilapidated buildings in 1960s Toronto. The planned urban renewal project would include the opportunity for the duo to update the apartments with the hope of increased rents and possibility of soaring property values. Until then, Lenny and Gabe would have to continue extorting payment protection money for Ernie Zimm. Ernie's Travel Agency served as a fr0nt for his collections racket in the Kensington Market Area. "You paid what you owed...You can run your mouth but you still owe [Ernie] the hundred...We all got shit to schlep, man." Lenny and Gabe needed to continue collecting.
The Garment District was the final collection of the day for short tempered, Gabe who wacked the owner of "The Merchant of Mink" and his bookkeeper then drove away. Police response to "shots fired" at the "Merchant of Mink" store caused a witness issue for Gabe. He shoved his weapon into the cavity of his dinner chicken. When questioned by the police and told to drop his capon, the pistol, inside the bird, clattered onto the ground. "I thought it was the giblets."
Lenny Ovitz, lover or hit man? When three Portuguese men tried to collect protection money on Ernie Zimm's home turf, Lenny chose to hire them to stage a fake robbery, with hero Lenny saving the damsel in distress. Not quite. Paulina's father Isaac Levine stole the show at his jewelry store. Priceless!
Deception occurred in the form of policeman Gary Evans as well. Gary's cover was to play tennis frequently with Paulina at her club. "Paulina hitting the ball out, into the net, missing an easy ace. Playing the male ego not the ball...". Gary meanwhile working undercover while trying to get under the covers. Would any details of Ernie's operation immerge?
"The Get" by Dietrich Kalteis poses many queries for the reader. Will the extortionists get their just desserts? Will Paulina obtain her get? Will Gabe be found guilty of murder or will he cut a deal by being a rat? The twists and turns and fast tempo of the tome will keep the reader engaged. My favorite character was Isaac Levine. I admired his spunk. A cast of ruthless thugs populate this darkly comic crime novel. Highly recommended.
Thank you ECW Press and Net Galley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this eARC.
I waited to write this review as although this book kept my interest and to a degree it kept me entertained, I felt as though the characters could have been more multi-dimensional and well developed. What I mean was, the anti-hero probably was more than just a one dimensional idiotic chauvinist thug, and the woman who spent two years with him and then couldn't say "why" she did was equally as involved.
You got the idea these role were always as they were as we have no evidence of them ever being anything else.
The plot didn't have a lot to it, a hot-headed money collector, who seemed to think he was above the law, and his wife who had her head turned by a cop (posing as her tennis instructor). Perhaps if I knew more about either main character's earlier lives, and/or their motivation, but as it was, I just didn't feel the story was "developed" enough.
I didn't "feel" much about the characters other than how stupid the main character was...
The storyline didn't flow with a strong beginning, middle and end, it read more like a short story to me, it wasn't meaty enough in my opinion (of course) to support an entire book.
Until next time, writers, tell us a story that will matter to us, but first tell us the story of your main characters lives, is a main character so hungry for approval because his father deserted him as a child and he was ignored while she went with man after man so that they could survive and as a little boy the now grown up thug never got enough attention? Well, you know what I mean! 😘😉
I hope the writer keeps writing as I can see echoes of future potential genius, and I look forward to your next book, I will certainly buy a copy!
A great crime book with a touch of humour to it as the protagonist goes to extremes to change his circumstances. The characters are terrific and not just the leads - Paulina’s father is just one of many additional characters who add richness to this book. The author has a compelling writing style which will grab you and keep you turning those pages.
Excuse me while I rise to my feet and enthusiastically bring my hands together. Yes, it’s another standing ovation for our Canadian Neighbor and crime author extraordinaire Dietrich Kalteis and his latest page turner#TheGet. The story of mob collection man and all around cretin Lenny Ovitz and his highly disgruntled wife Paulina who is seeking to sever ties with the sleazeball with a divorce, but not any divorce, a Jewish Divorce, known as A Get. Lenny, being Lenny, prefers to leave out The Rabbinical hocus pocus and opts for a cheaper and more permanent solution that is more fitting for his vocation, if you get my drift. As always, Kalteis is a master of the criminal vernacular and has a superb ability to create innocent characters who become tainted by their underworld associates making for entertainment of the highest order. Warning, if #TheGet is your first Kalteis book you could easily become addicted and jump into his back catalog right away. Dietrich Kalteis always hits the criminal bullseye and #TheGet is no exception!
I love crime novels! This is a new author for me, so I was pleased to have really enjoyed this novel. This was well written and an overall great read!
Lenny's wife Pauline wants a divorce- a get- and he wants her money so what to do but kill her. Well, Lenny's not the smartest of criminals nor is Gabe his partner. They spend their time collecting from those indebted to their crime boss and now they've invested in real estate. It's 1965 and there's a lot going on in Toronto. OH and Pauline is being courted by an undercover police officer who wants info on Lenny. This is a tightly constructed crime novel - it's short and it's got a few surprises. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. A good read.
Dietrich Kalteis continues to be one of the best Canadian crime writers out there and brings us down the Rabbi(t) hole with The Get. You’d be forgiven for thinking the title is just cool crime parlance for a fortune our protagonists are seeking, but it is in actual fact a document required for a Jewish couple to rightly seek a divorce. Lenny Ovitz is out of the house with Paulina demanding a get in order to end their fraught nuptials. Lenny is a collector for a local mobster and “the life” has taken its toll on the pair. Lenny feels he’s owed more than the half he might expect from a divorce and sets out to take it all.
Kalteis is quite easily comparable to Elmore Leonard with the story taking character and plot tangents including an undercover detective, Lenny’s associate, Gabe and Paulina’s father Isaac in a rich and perhaps even, over complicated web evidenced by the somewhat truncated timeline of Isaac leaving behind the German WWII camp and arriving in America before Paulina’s birth, which would suggest she’s young compared to Lenny.
You can see a practiced hand at work in terms of the dialogue whipping between the characters and the ever changing motivations and machinations of the characters. Kalteis continues to be a prolific and entertaining author of crime fiction beyond the deluge of mysteries.
In reading The Get by Dietrich Kalteis, the first things that came to mind were films of the Cohen Brothers and the film Killing Me Softly, all of which often portray serious subjects with the type of cynical and comeuppance humor thrown in where often one is not sure whether to laugh or grimace.
Lenny Ovitz and Gabe Zoller are crime partners, with Lenny being the smarter of the two, which is not saying much, and Gabe the more violent (just mentally picture Scoot McNairy and the often explosive Ben Mendelsohn from Killing Them Softly and there you have Lenny and Gabe).
In the novel, it is 1960s Toronto with a whole lot of crime going on.
Unfortunately for them, Lenny and Gabe are a pair of Sad-Sack numb skulls who can’t seem to do much right while ignoring the old axiom of stopping digging when finding oneself in a hole.
The two collect protection payments from people and area businesses for Ernie Zimm. Zimm is a temperamental man and fond of throwing violent tantrums when displeased and especially when his gofers come back light in their collections.
When the pair grow weary of low pay for long hours, they develop a scheme of their own to buy two rat-trap apartment buildings for renovation and renting. To finance their scheme, and to avoid the ire and parasitic participation of Zimm, they decide to borrow money from a more dangerous loan shark named Ungerman, The Chicken King.
While all this is going on, Lenny’s wife Paulina, an attractive woman higher up on the social ladder than Lenny has ever been, realizes their marriage has been in a downward spiral heading toward the ground faster than a man without a parachute and wants out of the toxic relationship immediately.
Lenny, thinking differently, develops further schemes in an attempt to persuade her otherwise, which only makes matters worse. While all this going on, Paulina is being romanced by an oily Lothario undercover cop masquerading as a tennis pro at her country club in hopes of developing evidence to arrest Lenny and eventually Zimm.
Joining the mix is the elderly father to Paulina who happens to be a crafty watchmaker/jeweler and one others often underestimate as just another frail senior-citizen prime for ripping off.
The novel then follows all these characters and others as they seem to chaotically bounce around in all sorts of unpredictable directions with eruptions of violence.
The Get has been one of the most enjoyable crime novels I have read this year and while the novel is humorous, it is not slap-stick humor, but humor with a bite.
I also enjoyed the writing style of The Get and was surprised how it was different from previous novels I have read by Kalteis, especially that of his last one, Nobody From Somewhere. Opening the pages and reading of the exploits of a crowd of miscreants with all of their own self-centered intentions and where nothing goes right when it comes to the meanderings of Lenny and Gabe, was such a pleasant surprise and is a clear indication I need to read even more novels by Dietrich Kalteis.
The Get is highly recommended to readers that enjoy crime novels with a sly and good natured nasty point of view. It is set to be published in June 2023 and was provided through ECW Press and Netgalley for the promise of a fair review.