Road to Paradise Chapter One On the morning of the day his life went to hell, Michael Satariano felt fine. At fifty, a slender five feet ten, with a face that had remained boyish, his dark brown Beatle-banged hair only lightly touched with gray at the temples, Michael appeared easily ten years younger, and the guess most people made was, "Thirty-five?" Only the deep vertical groove that concentration and worry had carved between his eyebrows gave any hint that life had ever been a burden. He wore a gray sharkskin suit and a darker gray tie and a very light gray shirt; he did not go in for either the cheesy pastels or Day-Glo colors that so many middle-aged men were affecting in a sad attempt to seem hip. His major concession to fashion was a little sideburn action -- that was about it. And unlike many (most) Outfit guys, Michael had no penchant for jewelry -- today he wore pearl cufflinks, gold wedding band on his left hand and single-carat emerald with gold setting on his right. The latter, a present from his wife Pat, was as ostentatious as he got. His health was perfect, aided and abetted by nonsmoking and light alcohol consumption. His eyesight was fine -- in the one eye that war had left him, anyway -- and he did not even need glasses for reading, which remained the closest thing to a vice he had: if pulp fiction were pasta, Michael would have been as fat as his food-and-beverage man here at Cal-Neva -- give him the company of Louis L'Amour, Mickey Spillane or Ray Bradbury, and he was content. Neither could gambling be counted among the sins of the man whose official position at the resort/casino was Entertainment Director. Nor did he have a reputation for womanizing -- he had been married since 1943 to Patricia Ann, the woman he always introduced as his "childhood sweetheart" -- and though working in environs littered with attractive young women (from waitresses to showgirls, actresses to songbirds), he rarely felt tempted and had not given in. It was said (not entirely accurately) that he'd never missed a Sunday mass since his marriage. For this reason he had acquired a mocking nickname -- the Saint. Saint Satariano, the wiseguys called him, particularly the Chicago crowd. Not that his church-going ways were the only thing behind the moniker: for three decades now he had served as the Outfit's respectable front man in various endeavors, the Italian boy who had been the first Congressional Medal of Honor Winner of World War II, the combat soldier whose fame rivaled that of Audie Murphy. "Saint" had not been his first nickname. During his months on Bataan in the Philippines, when he was barely out of high school, Michael had earned from the Filipino Scouts a deadly sobriquet: un Demonio Angelico . He had killed literally scores of Japanese in those vicious early days of the war, and had lost his left eye saving Major General Jonathan Wainwright from a strafing Zero. The latter event had been prominent in his Medal of Honor citation, but so had an afternoon battle in which he'd taken out an even fifty of the enemy. General MacArthur himself had helped smuggle the wounded soldier off Bataan, to give stateside morale a boost with the war's first American G.I. hero. But Michael had not lasted long on the P.R. podium and rubber-chicken circuit -- he kept asking his audiences to remember his fellow "boys" who had been abandoned by Uncle Sam back on that bloody island. And so the adopted son of Pasquale and Sophia Satariano was sent back to Chicago a proud son of Italy (few knew that the boy was really Irish), and had been embraced by Al Capone's successor himself, the dapper and intelligent Frank Nitti, as a good example of just how patriotic a dago could be, Mussolini go fuck himself. What Nitti had not realized was that Michael was fighting another war, a separate war, a personal war. The young man's real father had been blessed (or perhaps damned) with his own colorful nickname: the Angel of Death . Michael Satariano was in long-ago reality Michael O'Sullivan, Jr., son of the infamous enforcer who had railed against the Looney gang of the Tri-Cities and their powerful allies, the Capone mob of Chicago . . . . . . that same Angel of Death whose face had appeared on True Detective magazine covers, and in several movies that had romanticized Mike O'Sullivan, Sr., into a kind of Robin Hood who had traveled the Midwest stealing mob money from banks and giving it to poor farmers and other Depression unfortunates. The story went that Mike O'Sullivan had been the top lieutenant of Rock Island's Irish godfather, John Looney, but that (back in '31) O'Sullivan and Looney's homicidal offspring Connor had vied for the old man's chair, which led to an attempt on O'Sullivan's life, that succeeded only in taking out the Angel's wife, Annie, and younger son, Peter. This tale was true as far as it went, but the power-play aspect was guesswork by second- and third-rate journalists. Michael Satariano knew why and how the Looney feud had really begun: he himself, at the tender age of eleven, had stowed away on one of his father's "missions" (as he and Peter used to romantically put it, daydreaming that Papa and his gun were doing the bidding of President Hoover). Instead the boy had stumbled onto a mob killing, witnessing Connor Looney murdering an unarmed man, followed by his own father machine-gunning a clutch of the murdered man's understandably riled compatriots. So it was that Connor had schemed to wipe out the O'Sullivan family, only to fail miserably, as was Connor's wont. The two surviving O'Sullivans -- Michaels senior and junior -- had become outlaws, moving by car from one small Midwestern town to another, striking out at the Capone Outfit by hitting banks where the gang hid its loot, to pressure the Chicago Boys into giving Connor over to the Angel's righteous vengeance. This went on . . . Road to Paradise . Copyright © by Max Collins. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Road to Paradise by Max Allan Collins All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.