The Racetrack Gangs: Four Decades of Doping, Intimidation and Violent Crime
Between the two World Wars, there was a dramatic upsurge of violence as rival criminal gangs vied for rich pickings from bookmakers at racetracks throughout England.
With ready access to cash, ‘bookies’ were a magnet for mobsters’ blackmailing demands. Refusal to pay resulted in severe punishment. Their justified fears spawned a ready ‘protection’ market .
Conflict between rival gangs were frequent and increasingly violent. Charles ‘Darby’ Sabini with his brothers ran ‘The Italian Mob’ who clashed with Billy Kimber and his Brummagen Hammers.
Uneasy partnerships were formed but seldom lasted. The Sabinis were friendly with the Cortesi family until a rift resulted in one of the Cortesis shooting Harryboy Sabini. Other gangs such as The Titanics and The Nile Mob were ready to fill voids. As well as broken alliances, internal friction and members changing sides resulted in bloodshed on the streets, in pubs and clubs and on the courses. Public order was so threatened that the Flying Squad was tasked with the eradication of the problem and, in 1936, the celebrated Battle of Lewes Racecourse brought matters to a bloody conclusion.
This well researched and gripping account describes the vicious dramas played out in the 1920s and 1930s.
My thoughts: This being another Dick Kirby book, I “wished” for it, and in a reasonable time was informed that I’d been chosen to get it. This is a book about British true crime gangs in the early part of the last century. It focuses on the ones in particular that were preying on the racetracks, and the bookmakers who went there with money much of the time. The gangs would fight each other when they weren’t jumping other people for money. Their allegiance to a certain gang would be pretty fluid too, depending how the wind was blowing that week.
It goes over different violent cases involving gang members and attacks on bookies, other gangs, and just random folks in different areas through the years. It gives what information is known on who was involved and what happened. Then if available, it also tells the charges filed and court cases with the outcomes when known and sentences. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Dick Kirby, and publisher Pen & Sword.
Publisher: Pen & Sword – 224 pages
Publication: Oct 30th, 2020
My rating: 3/5 STARS
About the author– Dick Kirby was born in the East End of London and joined the Metropolitan Police in 1967. Half of his twenty-six years’ service was spent with Scotland Yard’s Serious Crime Squad and the Flying Squad.
Kirby contributes to newspapers and magazines on a regular basis, as well as appearing on television and radio. The Guv’nors, The Sweeney, Scotland Yard’s Ghost Squad, Brave Line Death on the Beat, Scourge of Soho, Crime and Corruption at The Yard and London Gangs at War are all published under the Wharncliffe True Crime imprint and he has further other published works to his credit. On retirement he lives near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. Kirby can be visited at his website: http://www.dickkirby.com.