The Yiddish Gangster's Daughter

Fiction - Mystery - General
Kindle Edition
Reviewed on 10/25/2018
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Joan Lipinsky Cochran is a South Florida-based writer whose crime and mystery novels focus on subcultures of American Judaism. Her latest novel, The Yiddish Gangster’s Daughter, is the story of a woman whose world is upended – and life threatened – when she discovers her father was a member of the Jewish syndicate. Her previous book, Still Missing Beulah. Stories of Blacks and Jews in Mid-Century Miami, is a collection of interlinked short stories exploring the relationships between Miami’s Black and Jewish community during the civil rights era.

She’s currently wrapping up a mystery that takes her protagonist into South Beach’s nightclub scene and Hasidic enclaves to find the murderer of a young Hasidic man.

A Coral Gables native who now lives in Miami, she is an adjunct professor of college writing and a freelance journalist who has written for Family Circle, South Florida Magazine, Miami Magazine, Florida Design, and The Miami Herald. She wrote food columns for the Sun-Sentinel for about six years and now publishes on the Jewish culinary scene for Moment, Forward and The Washington Jewish Journal.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Keith Julius for Readers' Favorite

In The Yiddish Gangster's Daughter, author Joan Lipinsky Cochran introduces us to Becky Ruchinsky, a forty-something mother of two who finds her life moving in some totally unexpected directions. Her two sons have headed off to college, leaving her at home with her husband, Daniel, a renowned oncologist, and Becky has finally managed to make amends with her elderly father, Tootsie. Tootsie, a resident of the Schmuel Bernstein Jewish Home for the Aged, has been alone for two years now following the death of Becky's mother. But even before then their relationship had been strained, after Becky learned of her father's infidelity toward her mother. She tries to be a good daughter, but she can't forgive him for the pain he brought to the family. Returning home after a visit with the old man, Becky receives a phone message informing her that her husband, Daniel, has likewise been cheating on her. Overwhelmed with emotions, she feels her life crashing down around her as she throws Daniel out of the house. How could things possibly get any worse?

But get worse they do. While Becky is visiting her father, Tootsie lets slip a casual comment regarding the fact that he was involved with gangsters in Miami before Becky was born. She pressures him for more details and begins to learn the truth. Though the story is told predominately from Becky's point of view, we get occasional glimpses from Tootsie's perspective as well, as he reflects on his past and the choices he made to support his family. The story is richly detailed with believable characters and realistic dialogue, and paced to keep the reader interested and anticipating the next revelation, as we learn some shocking secrets regarding the family history and the role Tootsie and her Uncle Moe played in it. Joan Lipinsky Cochran presents an intriguing story line as The Yiddish Gangster's Daughter begins to piece together the fragments of her father's life into a coherent story filled with poor decisions and bad mistakes and, yes, gangsters. It's a lifestyle that eventually overtakes Becky and threatens not only her life but the lives of her loved ones. The book will have you eagerly turning pages as you await the revelations at the end of Becky's search to discover the truth regarding the father she thought she knew.

K.C. Finn

The Yiddish Gangster's Daughter is a standalone mystery novel by author Joan Lipinsky Cochran, written for adults. The central character is Becks Ruchinsky, whose life is already in turmoil with the news of her husband’s betrayal. As she’s already trying to recover from this awful news, she finds out that her father, Tootsie, has been accused of a murder that took place in his youth. Fifty years ago, Tootsie worked for the Jewish syndicate, running numbers for mobsters and racketeering, as well as being involved in illegal arms dealing. Horrified by the truth of her father’s past, Becks discovers more and more as she finds it harder and harder to forgive him.

I found Tootsie’s story much more interesting than Becks’s dilemma, but that’s not to say that the two don’t go together well. Telling the story from now and looking back lends a somewhat comforting air to the tale, softening some of the blows of the difficult and dangerous life that Tootsie led when he was younger. Joan Lipinsky Cochran has done a fantastic job of illustrating the life of a Jewish gangster and the reasons why these men lived and worked in the way that they did, whilst also giving us a modern day voice and opinion on the past through Becks. Overall, I’d recommend The Yiddish Gangster's Daughter to readers who enjoy both historical fiction and women’s fiction, as the emotional story line of forgiveness and discovery runs hand in hand with the fascinating and exciting life of gangsters five decades ago.