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Reviewed by Anne Boling for Readers' Favorite
City Within A City is an unusual love story. It is the story of Joe Thomas whose main love is the excitement of crime. Throughout his life he stole , dealt in drugs, and committed numerous other crimes. Sherry Clark Thomas, a woman that loved him, wrote this book. Joe was born in 1913 and died in 1992.
City Within A City opens with the funeral of Joe Thomas, a gangster. Joe is the narrator of his story. Crime seemed a natural way of life for Joe. At ten years of age, he saw his father shoot a man and he pick the fragments of brain off of his clothing. During a year in reform school, he was brutally raped. You would think that after such brutality a man would be gentler to others. Not Joe! He beat his wives unmercifully. Joe describes himself as a pimp and gigolo. It did not matter to Joe as long as he made money. When Joe was born his father swore that he was “the chosen one.” He declared that God had sent special angels the watch after him and that nothing would ever hurt him. Perhaps his father was right. However, I am not sure it was God’s angels. A total of 13 ½ years in prison taught Joe a lot about violence. Joe was married nine times. He married Sherry Clark twice.
City Within A City left me feeling disconcerted. I have often heard it asked why women “go” for bad men. Having read this book, I ask myself the same thing. Sherry Clark Thomas is a talented writer. So why did she “go” for Joe Thomas? I believe the excitement was an addiction. Regardless of her reasons, I admire Sherry’s talent. City Within A City is a brutally honest account of one man’s life and how his actions affected others. “The sins of the father’s,” ran through my mind as I read this book. Joe was raised with violence; he was a product of his environment. That does not excuse his behavior. This is not a book for the faint of heart. City Within A City will stay with you long after you lay the book down. Fraught with drama, City Within A City is a book that will take you into the bowels of crime and violence.