I was sent this book by the author for review, and I was kind of blown away by her story.
Luellen is the daughter of Allen Smiley, a man who was very publicly known to be a member of the organised crime syndicate in LA, but whom she knew as Daddy. As a sheltered child, she grew up with the understanding that her father was a man with a temper, but who loved her very much. It wasn’t until a friend at school found pictures of Smiley with his pal Bugsy Siegel in a book on the Mafia that she started to understand that there was more to her father than met the eye.
In this book, her journey to discover her father and who he really was led her on a long journey, a journey that this books tells.
It’s a courageous step, confronting the man at home who denied that the mafia even existed, a man who controlled her life in so many ways, even after he was gone. There is something very beautiful and moving about the way in which Luellen describes both loving and fearing her father, of knowing that she was loved, but also that there were parts of her father that weren’t what she knew of him. Luellen is a highly sympathetic person, a woman who is remarkably strong but also vulnerable, and I think that that’s part of the fascination of this story. It’s a mafia tale told by the family, what it’s like to live with a man in the mafia, and the personal costs on both him and his relationships. It’s the inside story, but without sensationalism.
I think this book is one to add to any collection of organised crime books, so Mafia fans look out for this one. But also, I think women will relate (and men too, I’m sure) to discovering the other side of our fathers, the side that faces the world, and also the impact that that can have on the creation of our personalities and perception of the world.
Perhaps overwritten in places, and my copy had some little issues with copy errors, the book is self published, don’t be put off. Luellen’s story is fascinating. I think you’re really going to love her.
Read It If: it will appeal to true crime fans, those of you who think you know everything about life in The Family, or those of you who had difficult relationships with your fathers. It’s a highly unusual story.