A Brotherhood Betrayed: The Man Behind The Rise And Fall Of Murder, Inc
The riveting true story of the rise and fall of Murder, Inc. and the executioner-turned-informant whose mysterious death became a turning point in Mob history.
In the fall of 1941, a momentous trial was underway that threatened to end the careers and lives of New York’s most brutal mob kingpins. The lead witness, Abe Reles, had been a trusted executioner for Murder, Inc., the enforcement arm of a coast-to-coast mob network known as the Commission. But the man responsible for coolly silencing hundreds of informants was about to become the most talkative snitch of all. In exchange for police protection, Reles was prepared to rat out his murderous friends, from Albert Anastasia to Bugsy Siegel—but before he could testify, his shattered body was discovered on a rooftop outside his heavily-guarded hotel room. Was it a botched escape, or punishment for betraying the loyalty of the country’s most powerful mobsters?
Michael Cannell’s A Brotherhood Betrayed traces the history of Murder, Inc. through Reles’ rise from street punk to murder chieftain to stool pigeon, ending with his fateful death on a Coney Island rooftop. It resurrects a time when crime became organized crime: a world of money and power, depravity and corruption, street corner ambushes and elaborately choreographed hits by wise-cracking foot soldiers with names like Buggsy Goldstein and Tick Tock Tannenbaum.
For a brief moment before World War II erupted, America fixated on the delicate balance of trust and betrayal on the Brooklyn streets. This is the story of the one man who tipped the balance.
This is a well-written mob story about Murder, Inc. that I enjoyed recently. It tells the tale of the group that was formed to handle the punishments or hits for the mob after the families became equal under the Commission. This was brought about by Lucky Luciano when he killed the last of the Mustache Petes, who insisted on doing things the old way, with one boss having to be in charge over everyone. This cleared the way for Jews to now be part of it too, among other changes.
The families could just get in touch with Murder, Inc. when they had a problem with one of their members getting out of line or bringing too much heat. They could also be called if a member was suspected of talking to the authorities. They were chosen because they were already known as ruthless killers who had become pretty efficient at it. That only increased after it became their major interest. This book would be of interest to most who like true crime/ mob books, especially those from past generations, like in J. Edgar Hoover’s time. Advanced electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, the author, Michael Cannell, and publisher in return for my honest review.
Publisher: Minotaur Books – 336 pages
Publication: Oct 6th, 2020
My rating: 4/5 Stars
The Author– Michael Cannell is the author of three non-fiction books, most recently Incendiary: The Psychiatrist, the Mad Bomber and the Invention of Criminal Profiling (St. Martin’s Press). The Limit: Life and Death on the 1961 Grand Prix Circuit (The Twelve) was published in 2012. The Sundance Channel/AMC has optioned The Limit to be made into a television series. I.M. Pei: Mandarin of Modernism (Crown) was published in 1995. Michael was editor of the New York Times House & Home section for seven years. He has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Sports Illustrated and many other publications. He lives in New York City.