Blog Hop Book Review: If Jack Had: A Journalist with a Killer Story


Good Day Everyone! I’m part of the Blog Hop for newly released book, If Jack Had by Steven Rappaport: A Journalist with a Killer Story

Courtesy of Black Rose writing, one winner will be selected and announced this afternoon to receive a paperback copy of If Jack Had.



If Jack Had is a dark, ironic story of a man in search of filling the void of his father’s love, only to resolve it as an adult in a dysfunctional and violent way.

Rappaport gives the reader an insider’s look at the Russian mob through the eyes of Jack, a journalist with a dualistic personality who has a second “job” as a hired hit man. Jack was the product of a dysfunctional family. His young hippy mother worked from home as a masseuse – and whore. Behind Jack’s gentle façade, he was overflowing with rage. A school bully taunted him relentlessly about his mother being a whore. The next day, Jack killed the bully with one rock to his head in Central Park. Jack was never caught.

Affter entering Columbia’s School of Journalism, he sought out work in the journalism field, along with a job feeding his dark side. He woos Monika Minsikov, the daughter of Serge Minsikov. Serge controlled most of the drugs, loan sharking, illegal gambling and a stable of contract killers in New York. After seeing Monika for a few months, Serge pulls Jack aside after dinner. Serge’s instinct picked up on Jack’s evil side. Serge asked him to be a contract killer. As arrogant and boastful Jack’s father had been, Serge was soft-spoken and understated, never revealing his massive power and influence. Jack was only too happy to agree to this second job.

Jack, the main protagonist, is a well fleshed out and relatable character. His lack of acceptance from his father becomes misplaced onto Serge. Jack continues to work as an assassin, feeling guilty about it his entire life. Plenty of Yiddish is peppered throughout adds to the story’s flavor. For those not familiar with Yiddish, you may need to look some of the words.    For the most part, you’ll understand the meaning.

You’ll follow Jack as he leads his second life doing “jobs” all over the world. From Paris, to Greece, to the pot havens of Northern California.  Rappaport’s direct, colorful style of storytelling suits this dark, gritty story. I was on edge through the entire book, leading to a surprising end. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys stories about assassins, Russian Mobs, and father son relationships.

A copy of this book was provided to me from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Publisher’s Summary:

What’s the difference between a serial killer and an assassin?     A paycheck.

Jack is a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist with a secret second job. Since he was a smart-ass grad student slinking around New York’s Upper West Side and Brighton Beach, he’s been working as an assassin for the Russian mob.

Beginning at the end – that is, with an aged, incontinent, and at last truly alone Jack, his mind made up that tomorrow will be the first day he kills someone he loves: himself – IF JACK HAD tells his story in rearview, providing an all-access-pass into the enviable, high-flying life he clear-cut for himself against all odds…and the (literal) trail of dead he left along the way.

The debut novel from sixty-eight-year-old Manhattan author Steve Rappaport, IF JACK HAD is, much like its protagonist, more than meets the eye. A caper comedy featuring sex and drugs, blasphemy and blood, far-flung exotic locales and all the other stuff that makes for good, not-so-clean fun, If Jack Had also happens to have a big, beating heart. Beneath the surface, it’s a meditation on family, fatherhood, the indignities of aging, the inevitability of loneliness, and the preciousness of life itself.

From spending peaceful mornings with Jack in Paris’s Le Marais district to experiencing the hedonism and glamour of Manhattan’s downtown art scene in the 1980s at his side, readers of IF JACK HAD will be swept up in a world that’s all at once ordinary and extraordinary, where life and death collide with the regularity of a ticking clock, and in which appearances can be every bit as deceiving as the storyteller himself.

If Jack Had [Black Rose Writing] will be available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and in brick-and-mortar bookstores nationwide as of June 4, 2015. Find it on Goodreads:

Publisher: Website: IfJackHadAuthor


Steven Rappaport, age 68, has been a stock trader, pot dealer, itinerant hippie peddler, cab driver, retailer, and is currently a successful commercial real estate salesperson in Manhattan. He offers a simple rationale for his first novel: “My eldest son, Jack, died at forty from a progressively debilitating, unknown neurological disorder. This brilliant boy, a Vassar grad, never got to live the life he deserved. I’ve infused him with one.”

Q & A with Jack Rappaport

1. When did you have an interest in writing?

As a teenager

2. Who are your real life models and why?

My father’s brother, an Orthodox Rabbi who had all the understanding, warmth and tenderness that my father, the agnostic, did not. My cousin Helen, and her husband Sam, long gone, union organizers for The Communist Party in the thirties. Their indomitable spirit and perseverance, coupled with wit and wisdom, and a sense of social justice, have guided me through life. Plus ironically, the skills they taught me about infiltrating and running groups, made me a much better Capitalist. Seize the typewriter.

3. What prompted you to write this book?

My eldest son, Jack, died at forty, from a progressively, unknown neurological disorder. This brilliant boy, a Vassar grad, never got to live the life he deserved. I infused him with one.

4. How did you do your research about contract killers?

A compendium of thousand of hours watching film and TV.

5. You’ve traveled a lot! Where has your favorite place been to live and why?

Mirtos, a small fishing village on the south coast of Crete. I’ve just returned, and I’ve been going there since 1971. It is isolated, quiet, and barely changed in all of these years, except the old ladies in black sit with iPods.

6. What lesson or theme would you like readers to take away?

It is a novel, not a book of instructions.

7. Describe your ideal reader.

One who has just bought a $16.95 hard copy of the book and has the spare time to Tweet/Instagram/Blog about it to their friends!

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