Il Dottore presents a new perspective on organized crime in the late 20th century. Elliot Litner was first introduced to gangster activity when, as a child, he befriended children of Mafia members in his Jewish and Italian Bronx, NY, neighborhood. Those connections, along with much determination and luck, helped Litner become one of the leading (and youngest) cardiac surgeons in New York in the 1970s and 1980s. Through a combination of Mafia pressure, curiosity, and his willingness to help those in need, Litner assisted the top guys (John Gotti, Carlo Gambino, and Joseph Bonanno) with a range of medical conditions. As the doctor became aware of the power he held in his unconventional "family," he enjoyed living a double life, saving patients during the day and indulging in prostitutes and gambling at night, while unsuccessfully keeping it a secret from his wife and child. Jim Knobeloch's fantastic performance provides a variety of voices for the many characters involved in Litner's life. Squeamish listeners should beware of some gory medical procedure descriptions. Recommended for public libraries.-Jesse M. Light, Memorial Hall Lib., Andover, MA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
A respected thoracic surgeon and also a Mafia confidant, Elliot Litner was a self-described "nerdy, Jewish kid from the Bronx" who'd witnessed a slaying as a boy yet kept mum, impressing local hoodlums; later, his acquaintance with mobsters' sons provided entree to New York's Cosa Nostra during its heyday. In 1971, while a surgical resident, Litner helped Gambino family associates establish clandestine abortion clinics. Soon, Litner was the Gambinos' go-to for sensitive medical emergencies and even served as a courier for the family. His enthusiasm for the gangsters' rough-edged lifestyle wrecked his marriage, even as his career was, according to Felber, abetted by hospital associates with mob connections. In an overwrought narrative, Felber (The Privacy War, etc.) alternates depictions of Litner's divided life with the narrative of how Paul Castellano unwisely divided the Gambino family into white collar and "muscle" crews. This led to open warfare in the 1980s, Castellano's assassination and Rudy Giuliani's devastating RICO prosecutions. Things climaxed for Litner in 1986, when he was asked to engineer an "accident" during surgery on Giuliani witness Ralph Scopo, the request accompanied by John Gotti's threats. Litner's story, though provocative, is related with melodrama and purple prose and sheds little new light on figures like Castellano and Gotti. (Oct.) Forecast: An NBC Dateline segment on Litner could boost sales for an otherwise marginal Mafia account. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.