John Thomas “Legs” Diamond
John Thomas “Legs” Diamond, a ruthless gangster and bootlegger. Brutal and ambitious, yet possessing a certain raw style, Diamond symbolizes the mood and energy of the years of Prohibition. Initially a second-rate thug, Diamond wages a violent war on competing bootleggers and builds an underworld empire that makes him one of the most famous—and most feared—figures of the decade. Diamond is also a man of rapacious appetites, with a wife, a mistress, and a taste for the high life. The air of power and magnetism that he exudes draws Marcus Gorman into his inner circle.
Marcus Gorman, a rising young attorney from Albany, New York. Gorman serves as the book’s narrator, drawing the reader into Diamond’s violent world even as he himself is pulled into it. Marcus begins as a respectable outsider, with a law practice and political ambitions. He finds himself unable to resist the twisted magnetism of Diamond’s outlaw life. He is hired by Diamond, ostensibly for legal representation, but soon realizes that his ties to the gangster will sometimes require activities on both sides of the law. Fascinated by the contradictions and sheer animal energy of the criminal he comes to know as a friend, Marcus abandons what he terms “the moral gold standard” in his own life and casts his lot with Diamond.
Marion “Kiki” Roberts
(The entire section is 552 words.)