Book Review ARC ~ I SAW THE DEVIL’S FACE

I Saw the Devil’s Face: My Life With Joseph Michael Kalady

by Teresa Giglio


SYNOPSIS – “You better hope to God the cops don’t come,” my babysitter, Joe Kalady, threatened me that day on his boat at Burnham Harbor. He and the other man were planning to rob a liquor store. My divorced dad, who was on his way to pick me up, didn’t know anything about that — or the prostitution Joe had used me for at age eight. So he took me out for an Italian ice to stop me crying.

When we got home and mom found my panties missing yet again, it clicked. She forbade Kalady to babysit, and me to ever speak of it again.

Fifty years later I’m here to talk about the marauding Kalady, the children he raped with impunity, the near-death experience I had on his yacht, and the toddler he kidnapped on a whim. I can tell you what I’ve learned about his mafia involvement, and introduce you to the homeless man he eventually lured to his death in a vain attempt to avoid spending the last of his days in prison.

This is my personal story of one of Chicago’s most ruthless and successful undetected child predators. I knew a man who spent his whole life in and out of jail, the terrorist-adjacent thief, con man, and murderer Joseph Michael Kalady.


MY THOUGHTS – This is a heartbreaking book by a very determined lady. She suffered so much in her young life, but her resilience shines through. It’s frustrating to see how this man was able to dodge responsibility his entire life for his crimes against children. But at least his story is being told now by someone he hurt, who has spent a long time finding her way back.


I SAW THE DEVIL’S FACE

PUBLISHER – Ind. Published – 276 pages

PUBLICATION DATE – Oct 31st, 2022

MY RATING – 5/5 STARS


ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Teresa Giglio is a veteran firefighter and paramedic living with multiple disabilities. She writes true crime for survivors. Find her at teresagiglio.com


Book Review ~ THE LAST JEWISH GANGSTER

The Last Jewish Gangster: The Middle Years

by David Larson


SYNOPSIS – The second installment of this saga of gangland lore follows gregarious gangster, Michael Hardy, further down his twisted criminal path. The Last Jewish Gangster, The Middle Years, starts in 1968 with Hardy sentenced to twelve years in the world’s most dangerous prison in Mexico after taking the rap for his mother’s counterfeiting scheme, hoping to have finally earned her love and respect.

Once he’s released from prison, Hardy returns to Brooklyn and tries to go straight, but drifts back into a world of crime. He gets Sammy “the Bull” Gravano to join his crew to pull major heists like kidnapping drug lords for million-dollar ransoms, and robbing cop bag men. To evade the law, he goes to Europe and ends up in Israel where he works on a Kibbutz, touching the hem of his Jewish heritage.

Hardy devolves further into a gangster’s life when he returns to Brooklyn, running a finger of the Mob’s Five-Fingers International Car Theft Ring, participating in a stolen airline ticket scam, and doing fourteen hits for the Mob, still hoping his mother will take notice. When she gets busted for the car theft ring, she turns him in to reduce her time.

Crushed by his mother’s callous self-interest, Hardy ends up cutting a deal with Rudy Giuliani to nab a dirty cop to reduce his time and negotiate his place in the witness protection program. Relocating to LA under an alias, it doesn’t take long for Hardy to land a gig as muscle for a Hollywood studio and meet his future wife, a sex worker who stole from his mother. The lines between love and revenge begin to blur.




MY THOUGHTS – I really like this type of gangster book, and this one didn’t disappoint. The second in a series of three, it’s one wild story, driven by his relationship or lack of one, with his mother. Michael Hardy goes above and beyond. He builds his cred as a mega-gangster trying to gain the unattainable. This kept me up late reading.


THE LAST JEWISH GANGSTER


PUBLISHER – WildBlue Press – 369 pages

PUBLICATION DATE – Aug 16th, 2022

MY RATING – 5/5 STARS


ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Over the course of two-and-a-half years, I met weekly with Michael Hardy in his Section-8 studio apartment in San Diego, up until his death. We were introduced by his therapist, Dr. El. For the first several months Michael told me what he did, the stories often unbelievable. When he gained enough trust in me, he told me why he acted with such fearlessness and committed heinous crimes. It was all done to impress his mother, Shirley, so that maybe she would love him. Shirley rejected Michael after his birth to be raised by her parents, so she could run with Bugsy Siegel and other powerful men in the Mob, rather than raise her son to be a good man.

Confined to a wheelchair most of the time we met, because he lost half of both feet to diabetes, this 325-pound aging gangster regaled his stories with such gusto, he often slipped into the present tense with his recall. I tried to capture that in his story as he trudged through decades of crime, from coast to coast, north to south, to Mexico, even Europe, and the Middle East.

The meetings with Hardy were sometimes useless, Michael wrapped around the axle of some injustice that befell him—car impounded because it had expired registration, arguments with neighbors over the use of community washing machines, Catholic Charities not coming through, Jewish Family Services late with their support, doctors not worth a damn, dentists not much better, and run-ins with local businesses who barred him after numerous infractions. His long-suffering wife was always at his side, caring for him, and loving him for the man he became. Raised Jewish, Michael discovered Christ in 1974 while in federal prison in Connecticut, then believed in Christ in 1991 when he appeared to Michael in his cell. But don’t for one minute think he was a Christian. He was a Jew who believed in Christ.`

The unpublished version of his story has been optioned three times in Hollywood over the past five years, to develop into a TV series or movie. Since I also write screenplays, I’ve developed scripts for both. They’ve been circulating slowly, the pandemic causing delays.


Book Review ~ BAD CITY

Bad City: Peril and Power in the City of Angels

by Paul Pringle


SYNOPSIS – For fans of Spotlight and Catch and Kill comes a nonfiction thriller about corruption and betrayal radiating across Los Angeles from one of the region’s most powerful institutions, a riveting tale from a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist who investigated the shocking events and helped bring justice in the face of formidable odds.

On a cool, overcast afternoon in April 2016, a salacious tip arrived at the L.A. Times that reporter Paul Pringle thought should have taken, at most, a few weeks to check out: a drug overdose at a fancy hotel involving one of the University of Southern California’s shiniest stars―Dr. Carmen Puliafito, the head of the prestigious medical school. Pringle, who’d long done battle with USC and its almost impenetrable culture of silence, knew reporting the story wouldn’t be a walk in the park. USC is one of the biggest employers in L.A., and it casts a long shadow.

But what he couldn’t have foreseen was that this tip would lead to the unveiling of not one major scandal at USC but two, wrapped in a web of crimes and cover-ups. The rot rooted out by Pringle and his colleagues at The Times would creep closer to home than they could have imagined―spilling into their own newsroom.

Packed with details never before disclosed, Pringle goes behind the scenes to reveal how he and his fellow reporters triumphed over the city’s debased institutions, in a narrative that reads like L.A. noir. This is L.A. at its darkest and investigative journalism at its brightest.


MY THOUGHTS – I wasn’t sure if this was my type of read or not, but it turned out to be a page turner. A reporter starts checking into a tip and it tuns into a wild investigation. He uncovers some pretty shocking information that keeps growing. The problem is all of the places involved seem to be intertwined and shutting him out or covering up for them. Even his own newspaper was interfering, shutting the story down totally at one point. Bizarre but true story.


BAD CITY


PUBLISHER – Celadon Books – 274 pages

PUBLICATION DATE – JULY 19th, 2022

MY RATING – 5/5 STARS


ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Paul Pringle is a Los Angeles Times reporter who specializes in investigating corruption. In 2019, he and two colleagues won the Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting for their work uncovering the widespread sexual abuse by Dr. George Tyndall at the University of Southern California, an inquiry that grew out of their reporting the year before on Dr. Carmen Puliafito, dean of USC’s medical school. Pringle was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2009 and a member of reporting teams that won Pulitzer Prizes in 2004 and 2011. Pringle won the George Polk Award in 2008, the same year the Society of Professional Journalists of Greater Los Angeles honored him as a distinguished journalist. Along with several colleagues, he shared in Harvard University’s 2011 Worth Bingham Prize for Investigative Reporting. Pringle and a Times colleague won the California Newspaper Publishers Association’s Freedom of Information Award in 2014 and the University of Florida’s Joseph L. Brechner Freedom of Information Award in 2015. Pringle lives in Glendale, California.


Book Review ARC ~ BLACK, WHITE, AND GRAY ALL OVER

Black, White, and Gray All Over: A Black Man’s Odyssey in Life & Law Enforcement

by Frederick Douglass Reynolds


SYNOPSIS – From shootouts and robberies to riding in cars with pimps and prostitutes, Frederick Reynolds’ early manhood experiences in Detroit, Michigan in the 1960s foretold a future on the wrong side of the prison bars. Frederick grew up a creative and sensitive child but found himself lured down the same path as many Black youth in that era. No one would have guessed he would have a future as a cop in one of the most dangerous cities in America in the 1980s—Compton, California. From recruit to detective, Frederick experienced a successful career marked by commendations and awards. The traumatic and highly demanding nature of the work, however, took its toll on both his family and personal life—something Frederick was able to conquer but only after years of distress and regret.


MY THOUGHTS – Fascinating biography, well written cop’s story. Reynolds grew up in Detroit and wound up being a policeman in Compton, CA. Great vocabulary and verbiage kept things interesting in this longish book. Some racist situations unfold. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.


BLACK, WHITE, AND GRAY ALL OVER


PUBLISHER – Mindstir Media 477 pages

PUBLICATION DATE – Aug 18th, 2022

MY RATING – 5/5 STARS


Book Review ~ HARD STOP

Hard Stop: A Life of Violence, Crime and Deception

by Jack Dawe


SYNOPSIS – Jack Dawe is an unconventional street cop. His ability to not act or look like a ‘Copper’ enabled him to infiltrate the drug networks of the UK. This no holds barred, explosive and at times humorous account of undercover policing takes the reader through a journey of crime, violence and deception.

This memoir is a true story of poacher turned game keeper. A veteran of 30 years’ service as a soldier and police officer, Jack reveals how he grew from a young thief into a soldier in search of danger and adventure across the world. This journey would see Jack have scrapes with the law and constantly fall foul of the strict codes of military discipline.

Jack’s thirst for adventure led him to a career in the Police where he took on the role of ‘street cop’ and ‘Thief Taker’ with tenacious vigour. During the early 2000’s the UK was gripped in a war on drugs, Yardy gangs ruled the heroin and crack trade that was destroying communities across Britain, the constant threat of firearms and punishment beatings held communities locked in fear. Organised Crime Groups ran illegal raves and flooded the streets with cocaine and ecstasy pills which were often sold to children. This illegal trade was spreading misery and addiction across the country. Jack’s skills and willingness to take risks resulted in him be being recruited as an undercover police officer. This exciting role took Jack across the country as he took on some of the most dangerous drug gangs in the UK.


MY THOUGHTS – I found Jack Dawe’s adventures with the British military and police force to be a good read for wild stories from his life. I just wish someone would remove his exclamation point key, yikes! I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.


HARD STOP

PUBLISHER – Matador – 227 pages

PUBLICATION DATE – June 28th, 2022

MY RATING – 4/5 STARS


Book Review ARC ~ Rated X

Rated X: How Porn Liberated Me From Hollywood

by Maitland Ward


SYNOPSIS – An empowering, sex-positive, behind-the-scenes look at both Hollywood and the porn industry in this celebrity memoir unlike any other. Perfect for fans of Pleasure Activism and How to Make Love Like a Porn Star.

Maitland Ward got her start in acting as a teenager when she was cast in The Bold and the Beautiful, but it wasn’t until she joined the later seasons of the sitcom Boy Meets World that she got her first taste of fame. As the loveable, sexy (but not too sexy) co-ed Rachel McGuire, Ward soon found herself being typecast as the good girl next door and was repeatedly denied darker, more intriguing roles. So she made a career change—one that required her to turn away from the Disney universe—and eventually established herself as one of the most-respected actresses in the porn industry today.

Now, Ward reveals the ups and downs of her fascinating career, including personal stories from her time on one of the most beloved shows of the 1990s, in this anything but a run-of-the-mill memoir. By showing Hollywood and triple-X stardom in a whole new light, she offers a fresh and stirring perspective on the sex industry. Ultimately a story of hope and triumph, Rated X is a sharp and provocative look at a former Disney princess who found her fairy tale in porn.


MY THOUGHTS – A wonderfully entertaining read by Maitland Ward, relating her eventual disappointment with mainstream Hollywood. She switches to creating her own content and gets creative with cosplay, etc. She later goes into porn to continue her personal journey into exploring her sexuality, and really makes a splash. Fascinating crossover. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.


RATED X

PUBLISHER – Atria Books – 256 pages

PUBLICATION DATE – Sept 6th, 2022

MY RATING – 5/5 STARS


ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Maitland Ward is an award-winning adult film star, actress, model, and cosplay personality. Best known for her role as Rachel McGuire on Boy Meets World, Maitland enjoyed a successful career as a Hollywood actress before making the slow transition into the adult industry. She has been a guest on Good Morning AmericaEntertainment Tonight, and more. Her writing has appeared on The Daily BeastRated X is her first book. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @MaitlandWard.


Book ARC Review ~ Retail Gangster

Retail Gangster: The Insane, Real Life Story of Crazy Eddie

by Gary Weiss


Synopsis – A biography of the spectacular rise and fall of Eddie Antar, better known as “Crazy Eddie,” whose home electronics empire changed the world even as it turned out to be one of the biggest business scams of all time

Back in the fall of 2016 we heard the news about the passing of Eddie Antar, “Crazy Eddie” as he was known to millions of people, the man behind the successful chain of electronic stores and one of the most iconic ad campaigns in history. Few things evoke the New York of a particular era the way “Crazy Eddie! His prices are insaaaaane!” does. The journalist Herb Greenberg called his death the “end of an era” and that couldn’t be more true. What’s insane is that his story has never been told.

Before Enron, before Madoff, before The Wolf of Wall Street, Eddie Antar’s corruption was second to none. The difference was that it was a street franchise, a local place that was in the blood stream of everyone’s daily life in the 1970s and early ’80s. And Eddie pulled it off with a certain style, an in your face blue collar chutzpah. Despite the fact that then U.S. Attorney Michael Chertoff called him “the Darth Vader of capitalism” after the extent of the fraud was revealed, one of the largest SEC frauds in American history after Crazy Eddie’s stores went public in 1984, Eddie was talked about fondly by the people who worked for him. They still do–there are myriads of ex-Crazy Eddie employee web pages that still attract fans, and the Crazy Eddie fraud scheme is now taught in every business school across the United States.  

Many years have passed since the franchise went down in spectacular fashion but Crazy Eddie’s moment has endured the way that iconic brands and characters do–one only need Google the media outpouring that accompanied his death. Maybe it’s because it crystallized everything about 1970s New York almost perfectly, the merchandise and rise of consumer electronics (stereos!), the ads (cheesy!), the money (cash!). In Retail Gangster, investigative journalist Gary Weiss takes readers behind the scenes of one of the most unbelievable business scam stories of all time, a story spanning continents and generations, reaffirming the old adage that the truth is often stranger than fiction.


My thoughts – I was somewhat aware of the Crazy Eddie type advertising back in the day. But I didn’t know about the story of the electronic business and what it really was, namely a scam run by the owners. It reached some amazing highs, but eventually imploded. Wonderfully researched and an interesting read. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.


RETAIL GANGSTER

Publisher – Hachette Books – 336 pages

Publication date – Aug 23rd, 2022

My rating – 4/5 STARS


About the author – Gary Weiss has been an investigative journalist and author covering corruption of Wall Street for over 40 years. His pieces have been essential reading ever since Warren Buffett cited his Business Week bond trading scandal article before Congress in 1991. Born and raised in the Bronx, Gary remains an essential NYC fixture. 


Book Review – Dominatrix on Trial

Dominatrix on Trial: How a Canadian Dominatrix Fought the Law and Won

by Terri-jean Bedford


SYNOPSIS – Terri-Jean Bedford was one of Canada’s most notorious citizens–but few know her under that name. As Madame deSade, however, she was Canada’s most famous leather-clad dominatrix, a well-known public figure appearing on the evening news as she took on the Canadian legal establishment to ultimately change sex worker law throughout the country.

Born into abject poverty, this bi-racial girl was placed into a foster home at six, where she was abused. She was later moved into various children’s homes and lived there until she was 16, when she left to make it on her own. She survived by working numerous unskilled jobs, until she entered the world of prostitution.

Her talents and interests helped her move into the elite world of the professional dominatrix, after which life was never the same. Located just outside of Toronto, her elaborate Bondage Bungalow became the target of a spectacular raid. Six highly publicized years of trials and appeals later, she was convicted under bawdy-house laws and paid a small fine. In 1999, she opened a similar facility in downtown Toronto, one that closed without police interference in 2002.

A few years later she was at the center of Bedford vs. Canada, a five-year constitutional challenge to Canada’s sex trade laws. The Supreme Court vindicated her struggles. A mother and grandmother, she still advocates and writes for sex worker rights. Despite her at times heart-breaking story and declining health, she says she is going out a winner.

She remains a vocal advocate for civil rights and the disenfranchised. She has been a plaintiff in a major constitutional challenge, and, as a result, Canada’s prostitution laws were struck down in 2010.

A play based on her life story is currently in production in Windsor, Canada in 2022.


MY THOUGHTS – I found this to be a super interesting look into this woman’s life. Her choosing to be a dominatrix is all good, and she became a very good one. The problems begin when her place is raided, and she and the other workers are charged with providing sex acts for money. But sex acts were not involved in what they did at her place, they were in fact something that would get a person banned. With some great supporters, Bedford was eventually able to change the landscape of how sex workers are treated. It was a long battle, but she finally set things straight. I received a review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.


DOMINATRIX ON TRIAL


PUBLISHER – Riverdale Avenue Books – 322 pages

PUBLICATION DATE – April 25th, 2022

MY RATING- 5/5 STARS


ARC Book Review ~ All Signs Point to Paris

All Signs Point to Paris: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Destiny

by Natasha Sizlo


SYNOPSIS – Propulsive, touching, and darkly funny, All Signs Point to Paris is the story of one woman’s search for a second chance at love. A surprising astrology reading sends Natasha Sizlo—divorced, broke, freshly heartbroken, and reeling from her father’s death—on an unexpected but magical journey to France, in pursuit of a man born on a particular date in a particular place: November 2, 1968 in Paris.

Divorced, broke, and heartsick, it seems like things can’t get worse for Natasha Sizlo—then she learns her beloved father is dying.

So when she’s gifted a session with LA’s most sought-after astrologist, Natasha has nothing to lose. She doesn’t believe in astrology, but the reading is eerily, impossibly accurate. As her misgivings give way, Natasha asks about her emotionally unavailable, yet terribly handsome ex-boyfriend, the one she can’t seem to get over.

To Natasha’s surprise, the astrologist tells her he is The One. His birthdate and birthplace—November 2, 1968 in Paris, France—line up with Natasha’s astrological point of destiny. The word husband comes up in the reading.

Natasha feels faint. Was her ex really the big soul love she was destined for?

Then, she has a lightning bolt of an idea: he couldn’t possibly be the only available man born on November 2, 1968 in Paris. Her soulmate is still out there—she just has to find him.


MY RATING – This was an enchanting change from my usual true crime books. Natasha Sizlo writes about her crazy path to love, looking for men born on a certain date in Paris, just like her ex-boyfriend Phillipe. But this one will be her soulmate if she can find him. Her astrologer says so. Sad at points, also a funny and romantic memoir. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.


ALL SIGNS POINT TO PARIS


PUBLISHER – Mariner Books – 304 pages

PUBLICATION DATE – Aug 16th, 2022

MY RATING – 5/5 STARS


ABOUT THE AUTHOR – NATASHA SIZLO has written for Variety, Cosmopolitan, InStyle, Harper’s Bazaar, and Shape, among others. By day, she sells high-end real estate for The Agency. She lives in Los Angeles with her two children. 


Book Review ~ UNMASK ALICE


Unmask Alice: LSD, Satanic Panic, and the Imposter Behind the World’s Most Notorious Diaries

by Rick Emerson


Synopsis – Two teens. Two diaries. Two social panics. One incredible fraud.

In 1971, Go Ask Alice reinvented the young adult genre with a blistering portrayal of sex, psychosis, and teenage self-destruction. The supposed diary of a middle-class addict, Go Ask Alice terrified adults and cemented LSD’s fearsome reputation, fueling support for the War on Drugs. Five million copies later, Go Ask Alice remains a divisive bestseller, outraging censors and earning new fans, all of them drawn by the book’s mythic premise: A Real Diary, by Anonymous.

But Alice was only the beginning.

In 1979, another diary rattled the culture, setting the stage for a national meltdown. The posthumous memoir of an alleged teenage Satanist, Jay’s Journal merged with a frightening new crisis—adolescent suicide—to create a literal witch hunt, shattering countless lives and poisoning whole communities.

In reality, Go Ask Alice and Jay’s Journal came from the same dark place: a serial con artist who betrayed a grieving family, stole a dead boy’s memory, and lied her way to the National Book Awards.

Unmask Alice: LSD, Satanic Panic, and the Imposter Behind the World’s Most Notorious Diaries is a true story of contagious deception. It stretches from Hollywood to Quantico, and passes through a tiny patch of Utah nicknamed “the fraud capital of America.” It’s the story of a doomed romance and a vengeful celebrity. Of a lazy press and a public mob. Of two suicidal teenagers, and their exploitation by a literary vampire.

Unmask Alice . . . where truth is stranger than nonfiction.


My thoughts – I vaguely remember reading Go Ask Alice back in the 70’s, so that drew my interest to this book. I’m just gobsmacked at the real story behind Alice and how it really came into being. I think the person behind it was angry at being left off the book as editor, as they claimed to be. I believe that the way they used the next diary was a form of revenge, but on the wrong people. It was just so twisted it broke my heart. Such a revelation this read was. Good reading of a bizarre story, well researched book. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.


Unmask Alice


Publisher – BenBella Books – 384 pages

Publication date – Jun 7th, 2022

My rating – 5/5 STARS


About the author – Rick Emerson is a longtime radio and television broadcaster, the former host of the nationally-syndicated Rick Emerson Show, and the co-author (with Lisa Desjardins) of Zombie Economics: A Guide to Personal Finance. He’s a regular guest on America’s finer podcasts, and can be seen in occasional television roles, as well as in several independent films and a truly dreadful commercial for tires. He lives in Portland, Oregon with his two dogs, Willard and Philo.