Pallbearers and Plastic Flowers

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
328 Pages
Reviewed on 11/08/2023
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Essien Asian for Readers' Favorite

Michael Dibiaso arrives back from his tour of duty in Vietnam as a disillusioned man. He receives word of his mother's failing health which moves him to return home where he finds a lot of things have changed since he has been gone. When his brother Sergio is shot but escapes with his life, he asks Michael to aid him in a plan that has revenge written all over it. Michael initially wants nothing to do with this but when Sergio sweetens the offer with the promise of riches, Michael is finally hooked. The Dibiaso boys are about to discover that messing with the New York Mafia tends to go very badly when not thought through properly in Michael John Cruit's Pallbearers And Plastic Flowers.

Michael John Cruit's action story has a Vietnam veteran returning home to an unusual adventure. The characters are exquisitely put together as their origin stories show an impressive amount of detail. Cruit accurately captures the general mood in America during those years of the Vietnam War. The conversation between the characters is interesting to follow as he laces the sibling banter with the kind of emotional memories that the reader will instantly relate to. Emily's interaction with Michael opens up a hidden, softer facet of his personality that feels completely at odds with his battle-hardened and analytic exterior. This is interesting to follow as it unfolds. Cruit adds a little bit of romance and a huge helping of drama to a classic mob-styled tale of revenge that will appeal to die-hard action genre fans. Pallbearers And Plastic Flowers is an absolute delight to read.

K.C. Finn

Pallbearers and Plastic Flowers is a work of fiction in the recent historical, crime drama, and action subgenres. It is best suited to mature readers. Penned by author Michael John Cruit, the work presents a gripping tale set against the tumultuous backdrop of 1971, during the heart of the Vietnam War. The story follows the life of Michael Dibiaso, a Vietnam War veteran who returns to the U.S. only to be assigned to a special Army unit responsible for conducting honor guard services and serving as pallbearers for fallen soldiers. This poignant duty made him an ardent anti-war activist, leading him to attend funerals and memorial services for fallen comrades. However, Michael's life is not just defined by his military service. He comes from a family deeply intertwined with the Chicago Mafia, particularly his older brother Sergio, who is involved in the Stardust Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

Author Michael John Cruit has crafted a high-octane work with a narrative that is a true rollercoaster of emotions, brilliantly weaving together elements of wartime drama, organized crime, and the complexities of family ties. It provides a unique insight into the socio-political landscape of the Vietnam era while delivering an enthralling story of loyalty, betrayal, and daring heists that works on so many different levels. One feature that deeply impressed me was the presentation of such multifaceted characters with realistic motivations and struggles. Michael's journey from a soldier burdened by the weight of war to a vigilant anti-war advocate is particularly well-crafted and emotionally impactful. The interactions between the characters, especially within the complex world of the Mafia, provide ample intrigue and suspense whilst also offering some really entertaining dialogue exchanges. Overall, Pallbearers and Plastic Flowers is an evocative story that delves deep into the emotional and political turmoil of the Vietnam War era, and I would not hesitate to recommend it.

Grant Leishman

Pallbearers and Plastic Flowers by Michael John Cruit is a crime-thriller set in the early 1970s, with Mafia overtones. Michael Dibiaso has returned from the Vietnam War where he had spent a year of the hell that was the jungle and rice paddies of Vietnam. On his return to the States, he was assigned to the local Honor Guard that provided pallbearers and military honors to the funerals of fallen comrades. Both of these experiences would haunt Michael for some time to come. Michael’s family lives in an exclusive subdivision of Chicago where Michael’s father is a successful businessman. Although not a “wise guy” or a “made man”, Michael’s father had used his long-time friendship with Mafioso icon Al Capone to leverage support and business from the mob that had ensured his and his family’s long-term financial success. When Michael’s brother Sergio, who worked at a mob-owned casino in Las Vegas, is shot after a dispute with a Vegas Mafioso, Michael and his brother embark on an audacious plan to seek retribution and also to save a beautiful young woman from certain death at the Mafioso’s hand.

Pallbearers and Plastic Flowers is a cleverly constructed story that pits two unlikely combatants against the might of Mafioso power and treachery. Author Michael John Cruit has created two very different characters in Michael and his brother Sergio and yet they mesh brilliantly in the narrative. I particularly appreciated Michael’s worldview after his time serving in Vietnam. His inability to understand why they were interfering in a dispute between brothers (the Vietnamese) and his adoption of much of their Eastern way of thinking resonated with me. The drug culture that was rampant among the forces serving in Vietnam was evident in Michael’s struggle to cope with his return to the US and particularly his assignment to the honor guard. His understanding that the war was doing nothing for the local Vietnamese and that the only people benefitting from the war were the giant U.S. corporations was insightful. For me, the most poignant moment of the story was when Michael handed the American flag to a grieving wife only to realize that not only had she lost her husband but she was also pregnant. Sergio was a fascinating character with his almost savant appreciation for numbers and his determination to go up against the might of the Mafia despite the incredibly long odds of success. The plot involved in the Vegas caper was clever and innovative as was the character of Hopalong who just added a touch of surrealism to the entire adventure. This was a compelling read and one I enjoyed immensely. I can highly recommend this book.