In Harris’s debut novel, a dutiful son wants to make an honest success of his father’s auto parts business-but the mob may still be pulling strings behind the scenes. Thirty-something Larry Levine has worked at his dad Big Moe’s Public Auto Parts in New York City since he was in college. All of a sudden, Big Moe decides to retire to Florida, leaving Larry holding a mostly empty bag. His dad not only left with most of the company’s funds-he also left a lot of questions unanswered. For example, Larry wonders about the mob’s connection to Public Parts when a sinister gentleman named Carmine lets Larry know that he’s not his own man, but an owned man. Moreover, Larry finds out about the supposedly accidental death of mobster Abe Reles 30 years before; the man fell to his death, just as he was about to rat out several other criminals. Does that fact have something to do with why Moe decamped so hastily? What’s in the wind all these years later? Although Larry is desperate for answers, the old man is as cagey as ever. Then Larry meets Ann Riordan, with whom he falls instantly and hopelessly in love-even though he’s a semihappily married man. Despite the turmoil caused by their relationship, Ann is also, as Larry’s executive assistant, the best thing to ever happen to Public Parts. The climax of the book is Larry’s trial after .he’s framed for arson, receiving stolen goods, and other crimes. How did he get into such a mess? Eventually, Big Moe-a widower whose health is failing fast-comes clean, to a degree, about what happened way back in 1941. This is a very impressive debut, and although its nearly 600-page length may be daunting to some, it is, in fact, a brisk and straightforward read. The book doesn’t focus on a huge cast¬ just Larry, the narrator, trying to reform Public Parts while dealing with his feelings for Ann, and hers for him. These are, for the most part, well-rounded characters, precisely because Harris takes his time to develop them. Ann is shown to be competent, enigmatic, and eerily perceptive; Big Moe could have easily been a one-note character, but his love and care for his only son show him to have some depth. Larry’s wife, Laurie, is a study in exasperation, but she’s also there when the chips are down. The dialogue is crackling and sly, and the long trial section, featuring the colorful Bernie “the Attorney” Schwartz, is priceless. The novel also offers an intriguing hybrid of real and fictional characters. Reles, Meyer Lansky, Lepke Buchalter, and others are actual mob figures, but their stories mesh well with those of invented characters, including the Levines; Ann; the perky Dawn Sanders, who helps Ann out around the office; and the vengeful Detective John Mannion. lndeed, by the end of the novel, readers will fmd that the made-up characters feel like living, breathing people, as well.

An entertaining literary work with realistic characters.





“The writing is good to better than good throughout…”

Richard Marek, former President and Publisher, E P Dutton Company


“A Triumph”

Stefan Kanfer, former Book Editor, Time Magazine




I ABSOLUTELY ADORED THAT BOOK-I could not put it down-You are a great storyteller-a philosopher, a bit of a Rabbi, a great attorney and an overall engaging and fascinating writer. Your characters jump off the pages, and they truly live and breathe. You have so much going on and yet you can keep track of it all! You seem to know your characters so well and yet they still have the power to surprise! Please send me your home #, as I have been so anxious to share my words of praise with you. Well done, my friend-well done!!!!

What an amazing work! When you autographed my copy of Public Parts, you wrote “Enjoy the ride”. At that time, I could only begin to imagine what I was in store for. Thank you for an amazing ride and a truly enjoyable read. My only regret is that there is nothing else on the shelves by Joel Harris.

Joel Harris’ book has it all. There is a crooked father, a well meaning son, mobsters, beautiful girlfriends, cops on the take, conniving accountants, and more…all in a well written page turner reminiscent of John Gresham’s and James Patterson’s novels. This book pleases on so many levels I cannot recommend it high enough.

I thank you for a very enjoyable read. I am taken aback. How was I to know that my go to person for Matters Insurance was leading a double life? While ever charmingly (and patiently!) delivering insurance expertise, there labored a Damon Runyon, a Mickey Spillane, in our midst.

Very impressive. I hope I have a chance to hear you describe the process and the pleasure you had putting this together. Maybe over coffee or some lunch if you are in the Flatiron area in the near future. I will look through the Sunday NYT Book Review Section and see if there is a review in there. It was enjoyable in many ways, but mostly it was fun! Now that I’ve read it, I don’t have to give the book back, do I? Congrats and thank you.

I would love to deliver an extensive critique as you made my mind weigh various aspects of your book. But, you know what? Nothing I would or could say measures up to the wondrous accomplishment of your book. My criticisms simply do not deserve to share oxygen in the same room where your creation exists. I have naught experience in the publishing field. But I do sense that your achievement could be greatly leveraged and benefit from the assistance of just the right editor. You have delivered the goods; it needs a professional hand to shape it, to realize its full potential. You did a great job! Remarkable.

Masterful story telling. I was glued to the book. Drama, suspense, plot twist, and mob history, all woven into a believable plot. You can feel the protagonist’s plight as he struggles to keep his personal and business affairs afloat. I highly recommend this book.

What a delightful read. Once I started Public Parts, I didn’t want to put it down. Climb aboard, fasten your seat belt and hang on for one hell of a ride!

You don’t have to be from Brooklyn to love this book. Stick with it & you will be hooked.

Public Parts is an entertaining historical novel about a man who thinks he can change the way his father’s auto parts store is run in Brownsville, Brooklyn. It is 1971, and Larry Levine is dissatisfied at work and at home, and believes Public Auto Parts can be more modern than the way Big Moe operates it. The problem is not just about the generation gap, it’s also about the opposing forces controlling and protecting the business and the neighborhood. At the start of the book, a questionable suicide in 1941 of Abe “Kid Twist” Reles resurfaces when a detectives bursts into Big Moe’s office. Larry has known that Abe and his father were best friends, and that Abe worked for “the Mob’s accountant” Meyer Lansky, but when his father takes an extended vacation the following day, Larry takes a crash course in protection and control, family loyalty and corruption. What makes this novel a great read is Harris’ engaging writing and Larry’s humor, hubris and humility!

Because this book was outside my usual genre I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. The main character struggles with serious personal and business problems, achieving some degree of resolution. Something about the writing made me think of the word “authentic.” I recommend this book.

A hefty tome, full of surprises, mysteries, all expertly woven and offered in well-written prose, by a first-time published author.

NOTE: I did not suggest, ask for, or write any of these letters or comments.