Inside by Scott M. Hoffman

four stars

insideInside by Scott M. Hoffman is about the organized crime family, the Outfit. Originating in the South Side of Chicago and rising to power during the 1920’s, the Outfit ran the city and had a reach that extended beyond Chicago. Written from the perspective of Bobby Williams, the eight-year-old son of Jimmy Williams a consigliere of the Outfit. We first meet them in 1956 when Jimmy first starts bringing Bobby with him to his Outfit dealings. As a way to start educating Bobby on what this kind of life means, Jimmy exposes him to the wide variety of criminal activities like gambling, loan-sharking, prostitution, drug trafficking, money laundering, extortion, labor racketeering, adult and child pornography, political corruption, and murder. Jimmy wants Bobby to be able to decide for himself when he is older if he’ll follow his father’s footsteps and join the Outfit. Following Bobby at different points in his life, we’ll find out if he joins the Outfit or stays out of the South Side of Chicago.

The characters and events in Inside are composites of real people and real events. This provides an exciting setting for the audience reading about the Outfit crime family in Chicago. Providing a view of the Outfit through the eyes of Bobby, the son of an Outfit crime boss, is an interesting way to learn about the crime family because he is learning about the Outfit at the same time as the reader. Seeing Jimmy through the eyes of his young son engages an interesting father-son dynamic to the story from the get-go. With no chapters or parts, the pacing of the book and the timeline can sometimes feel a little overwhelming or confusing because there aren’t easy stopping points for the reader of definitive story breaks. However, the audience will enjoy feeling like they are sitting with Bobby in person hearing his stories about the Outfit’s criminal activities and learning whether or not he joined the Outfit with his father.

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