How Much Of The Novel Third Wheel Is Real
There is a bit of a buzz around the debut coming-of-age thriller Third Wheel by Richard R. Becker, and for good reason. Although the book is fiction, Becker readily admits that he gave some of his childhood to protagonist Brady Wilks.
What that means, he says, is that Brady and he share some life experiences. This includes moving to Las Vegas in the late 70s/early 80s from the Midwest. Both the author and Brady lost their fathers at an early age. They were raised by grandparents. Their grandmothers died, which is why they were reunited with their mothers. The reunion wasn’t all sugar and spice as their mothers served up “tough love” as a daily special.
Becker has been transparent about his relationship with his mother, although he is quick add it was more complicated than the one readers discover in the book, Third Wheel. What he doesn’t talk about as much is the crime element that makes Third Wheel such an engaging read.
Las Vegas and the Mob
Las Vegas has always been synonymous with the Mob. You can’t watch movies like “Casino” or “The Godfather,” without getting a healthy dose of mobsters running what mattered most in Las Vegas. Heck, Las Vegas elected a Mob lawyer its mayor in 1999, and his wife as mayor in 2011. They’ve both been good mayors of the city.
Becker doesn’t talk about that in his book, but there are a few details that draw closer to true crime than fiction. For instance, Becker’s character Brady mentioned the murder of a federal judge in San Antonio a few years prior from the book’s 1982 setting. That’s grounded in a real life case in 1979. There is also some truth to the back story of one character, who supposedly joined the Mob after seeing “The Godfather.”
Drug Cartels in Old Vegas
Becker is also right in his telling that drug cartel bosses were big fish for Las Vegas casinos in the 1970s and 1980s. This created an odd predicament for the Mob because they entertained the cartel bosses in their casinos, but didn’t necessarily want them operating out of Las Vegas on their own.
In fact, Jamiel “Jimmy” Alexander Chagra, who was implicated in the assignation of the San Antonio judge, was one of the exceptions. Jimmy was the undisputed marijuana kingpin of the Western world. He was linked to both cartel connections and the Mob.
Organized Crime as a Backdrop
Becker’s book, Third Wheel, doesn’t pace true crime front and enter. Brady and his friend group only brush up against it as the newest member of it happens to be a teen drug dealer. It’s his idea to expand sales by roping everyone into an exchange with a drug cartel.
The Mob connection, on the other hand, isn’t related to the drug deal. It involves a subplot where Brady accidentally earns a Mob favor. The favor adds some flavor to what Las Vegas must have been like in the 1980s. The children of mobsters had to go to school somewhere, which means other Vegas youth were sitting right next to them in class.
Reviewers Are Excited About Third Wheel
Whether there is more truth to the Third Wheel story than Becker is ready to admit or not, reviewers love the book. Third Wheel has received several 5-star reviews from reviewers, including one from Book Viral Reviews that says “Unapologetically written with stark uncompromising realism. Five stars!”
You can find Third Wheel anywhere books are sold or on Amazon. It will also be released as an audiobook soon. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CFZGXN5S
And don’t forget to give the book trailer a look. https://youtu.be/ByKdW1EpRFc?