BOOK REVIEW (ARC) ~ A Brotherhood Betrayed

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.

My thoughts:
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.

BOOK REVIEW ~ The Devil’s Harvest

The Devil’s Harvest: A Ruthless Killer, a Terrorized Community, and the Search for Justice in CA’s Central Valley


A gut-wrenching and timely deep-dive into the unbelievable true story of Jose Martinez, a drug cartel hitman responsible for dozens of murders across the forgotten farmlands of California’s Central Valley, The Devil’s Harvest sheds light on how the criminal justice system fails our country’s most vulnerable immigrant communities.
On the surface, 58-year-old Jose Martinez may look like your average neighbor, mechanic, and devoted father. However, unbeknownst to his many loved ones, Martinez worked as a drug cartel debt collector and hitman for over 35 years, terrorizing the poor, rural, immigrant communities of California’s Central Valley and beyond. Having confessed to three dozen murders, he is one of the most prolific serial killers in American history–along the lines of Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, and even H.H. Holmes. And yet until he voluntarily turned himself in, Martinez was virtually unstoppable.

How did Martinez manage to evade law enforcement for so long with little more than a slap on the wrist? Because he understood a dark truth about the criminal justice system: if you kill the right people–people who are poor, who aren’t white, and who don’t have anyone to speak up for them–you can get away with it.

Melding the pacing and suspense of a true crime thriller with the rigor of top-notch investigative journalism, THE DEVIL’S HARVEST follows award-winning reporter Jessica Garrison’s relentless search for the truth as she traces the life of this merciless assassin, the cops who chased him, and the families of his many victims. Drawing upon decades of case files, interrogation transcripts, on the ground reporting, and Martinez’s own handwritten journals, THE DEVIL’S HARVEST uses a gripping and often shocking narrative to dig into one of the most important moral questions haunting our politically divided nation today: why do some deaths–and some lives–matter more than others?


My thoughts:   This story about the deadly killer held my interest as it followed him and the men who were trying to catch him. He was really slick at getting away with his various crimes for a long time. He could travel almost anywhere he needed to go to do a job for someone, with no one the wiser. He’d go in and take care of the hit and be gone before the body even began cooling. But there is more to Martinez than just being a brutal killer. He is also a man who is involved in his family. While he may not always be faithful to his wives, he is always there for his children and his mother through the decades. I found this to be an interesting true crime book that turned out to be more current that I realized. Advanced electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Jessica Garrison, and the publisher.




Publisher:  Hachette Books – 336 pages
Publication:  Aug 4th, 2020
My rating:  4/5 Stars


The Author- Jessica Garrison, who has won numerous national awards as a writer and an editor, is a member of Buzzfeed News’ investigations team, based in San Francisco.


BOOK REVIEW ~ First Degree Rage

First Degree Rage: The True Story of ‘The Assassin,’ An Obsession, and Murder


This book I recently got is an excellent true crime story authored by the woman detective who lived it. There is lots of investigative action and good details as it follows along with detective sergeant Paula May as she and her crew go after a double murderer. High school teacher Kay Weden has been plagued by scary occurrences and she needs to get them to stop. Once you get into the story, you will see that the main suspect is quite the odd duck that is being hunted by police.

“There was no brown in his eyes at all. They were just two black buttons. I looked in his eyes. All I saw was solid black against the whites. It wasn’t natural. It was… creepy, unnerving, demonic.”
– Detective Paula May

There is also a bit of gas-lighting going on in the situation, just a matter of figuring out who is doing it. The book is a bit long, but for the most part, it held my interest well through the majority of it. You couldn’t come up with a stranger mix of people and backgrounds coming together if you tried. Just a weird story about a weird set of circumstances that happened.


Written by: Paula May
Publisher: Wild Blue Press – 535 pages
Publication: April 14th, 2020
My rating: 5/5 Stars


The Author– Retired Police Chief Paula May is a specialist in criminal investigation, having earned numerous awards and recognitions in her 30 year career. A graduate of the FBI National Academy, Paula is active in professional organizations, teaches at the university level, and enjoys writing criminal justice articles, Christian and motivational pieces. She has appeared on Dead of Winter, Forensic Files and the New Detectives. She continues to serve in her home state of North Carolina.


BOOK REVIEW ~ Unspeakable Acts

Unspeakable Acts: True Tales of Crime, Murder, Deceit, and Obsession


This was an enjoyable anthology of true crime stories that kept me entertained. There are thirteen different stories curated by Sarah Weinman. I also liked that at the end there’s a list of further articles and books suggested to read. I can vouch for some of them, as I’ve read them. I’m going to check out some of the rest as well.  Advanced electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, editor Sarah Weinman, and the publisher.



Publisher: Ecco – 416 pages
Publication: Jul 28th, 2020
My rating: 4/5 Stars

The Author- Sarah Weinman is the author of The Real Lolita, and editor of Women Crime Writers: Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940s & 50s (Library of America) and Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives (Penguin). She covers book publishing for Publishers Marketplace, and has written for the New York Times, the New Republic, the Guardian, and Buzzfeed, among other outlets. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.


MINI BOOK REVIEW ~ Killing Mother

Killing Mother: A Son’s Memoir


I recently picked up this Kindle book to read. My, my! This is quite a book in the vicious figure of mother Sandy. It hits like a freight train as you realize its from a real childhood. It becomes sickening but you can’t stop reading to see what’s going to happen next. The mother is so hateful and cruel towards her kids and foster kids, it will make you ill. It should be read despite this and a heavy dose of preachyness in the latter third of the book.  If you like true crime, check it out if you dare. It’s very well researched and written and will leave you mind-blown.

killing mother



Written by Robert Wallace

Independently published – 404 pages
Publication date: Oct 8, 2017
My rating: 4/5 Stars


BOOK REVIEW ~ Nothing Can Hurt You


This started out sounding like it was going to be a good story. Maybe I should stick to strictly non-fiction, because I got lost in all of the characters and never quite got back to knowing what was what from that point on. I understood the basic story about the college student who was killed by her boyfriend. Then there’s the newspaper reporter who felt it might have something to do with the serial killer of several women. But the melange of characters rotate so much that I couldn’t keep up, until I’d wasted a lot of time, and then it was time to switch to another character again. I read this mostly in one day, so it’s not like I dragged it out over weeks and lost the thread of the story or the characters. It just felt like too many balls juggling in the air at one time to me. I’m staying away from fiction with my crime. Just the facts, Ma’am, from now on. Advanced electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Nicola Maye Goldberg, and the publisher.




Bloomsbury Publishing – 240 pages
Published date: June 23rd, 2020
My rating: 2/5


The Author- Nicole Maye Goldberg is a graduate of Bard College and Columbia University. She is the author of the novella Other Women (Sad Spell Press, 2016) and the poetry collection The Doll Factory (Dancing Girl Press, 2017). Her work has appeared in CrimeReads, The Quietus, Queen Mob’s Tea House, Winter Tangerine, and elsewhere. She lives in New York City.


BOOK REVIEW ~ Alice & Gerald

Alice & Gerald: A Homicidal Love Story



This is a rather creepy case in Wyoming that goes cold, brought to us by author Ron Franscell. I’ve read and really liked his true crime in the past, and decided to buy this 2019 paperback to read at leisure. Some of the main players are really twisted in this one, and the game playing between exes gets nauseating at times, but that’s how it is for some folks in the real world when kids are pawns.  A good true crime story by a very good true crime writer, worth a read.





Written by Ron Franscell
Publisher: Prometheus Books – 336 pages
Published: April 9, 2019
My rating: 5/5 Stars


The Author- “Alice & Gerald: A Homicidal Love Story” (Prometheus Books) explores a grisly, real-life case of murder and perverse devotion. “Alice & Gerald” features a femme fatale whose manipulative, cold-blooded character rivals Lady Macbeth, this page-turner by bestselling true-crime author Ron Franscell revisits a shocking cold case that was finally solved just when the murderers thought they’d never be caught.

Ron Franscell’s writing has been compared to Truman Capote, Charles Frazier and Robert Olen Butler–diverse, poetic, evocative and muscular. His widely acclaimed 2016 true crime, MORGUE: A LIFE IN DEATH (co-authored with renowned medical examiner Dr. Vincent Di Maio) was nominated for an Edgar in 2017.

This lifelong newspaperman burst onto the literary scene in 1998 with his first novel ANGEL FIRE, a poignant, mythic tale of two brothers wrestling with personal ghosts in the small town where they grew up. ANGEL FIRE was subsequently named among the San Francisco Chronicle’s 100 Best Novels of the 20th Century West.

After his 1999 mystery, THE DEADLINE, Ron became a senior writer for the Denver Post, writing about the entangled past, present and future of the American West. THE DEADLINE and its sequel, THE OBITUARY, have been re-published in print and digital editions by WildBlue Press, one of the most innovative new publishing ventures in America.

In 2008, his first nonfiction, THE DARKEST NIGHT, won rave reviews from true-crime legends Ann Rule, Vincent Bugliosi and Gerry Spence. The book explored a monstrous crime against two of Ron’s childhood friends in the small town where they grew up, and how that crime has echoed across almost four decades. It is now a national bestseller.


MINI BOOK REVIEW ~ The Phantom Prince

The Phantom Prince: My Life With Ted Bundy by Elizabeth Kendall


This updated book I felt was very well done, given the wisdom of several decades to reflect, and to help improve Liz’s harsh feelings about herself at the time. I was shocked at how much I’d forgotten of the original story. I’m still absorbing it, I suppose. The part written by the daughter, Molly, was enlightening and heartbreaking all at once. But she seems to have made peace with the past fairly well.

I would recommend for any true crime fan, especially for any that are interested in Ted Bundy, one of the better known serial killers with many books written about him, even long after his execution. There are also many never seen before pictures in the book of Bundy and the author and others.





Purchased:   Jan 15th, 2020
Published:   Jan 7th, 2020
Publisher:   Henry N. Abrams Updated, Expanded Edition, 224 pages
My Rating:   5/5 Stars


The Author-  Elizabeth Kendall’s memoir, The Phantom Prince, was originally published in 1981.

Molly Kendall, her daughter, considered Bundy a father figure between the ages of three and ten.


BOOK REVIEW ~ The Encyclopedia of the Ted Bundy Murders

The Encyclopedia of the Ted Bundy Murders


This 5th book by Kevin Sullivan on the subject of Ted Bundy really is the icing on the cake, as far as I’m concerned. It has everything a serious Bundyphile could want, to look things up on him, with names, dates, and places, all having to do with him and his cases. What a wonderful reference guide on Bundy that will be useful for years to come. I’ve never seen anything quite like it, and it has become one of my favorite Ted books already for checking things. I think of it as my “Bundy Bible” of all things Bundy. I’d recommend it for any serious true crime student or anyone doing research about Ted Bundy, it’s just so comprehensive. Review copy provided by WildBlue Press and author Kevin Sullivan in exchange for a fair review.

Bundy Encyc

Publisher: WildBlue Press – 235 pages
Publication: Jan 7th, 2020
My Rating: 5/5 Stars


The Author- A writer of history and true crime, Kevin M. Sullivan is the author of 15 books, including what has now become with the publication of this book, a 5-volume set covering the life and murders of Ted Bundy. Indeed, because of his almost 14-year immersion into this many-faceted case, Sullivan has been a guest on documentaries pertaining to the killer on REELZ, HLN (CNN’s Headline News), the Oxygen Network, and ABC’s 20/20 program, as well as many radio shows and podcasts.


BOOK REVIEW ~ Krays: The Final Word

Krays: The Final Word: The definitive account of the Krays’ life and crimes


Here is another book in the more than a handful now that I have read on the Krays and their cohorts as I learn more about that period of time in Britain and some of the major and minor criminals that were operating. The Krays were some of the major operators during their time, and held a bit of power for a while. Reggie and Ronnie Kray were twins, and also had an older brother Charles and they were all busy in the life of crime.

This book is a good overview of their criminal lives, detailing the places they lived, the clubs they frequented, and the ones they either fixed up and ran, or muscled into and took over, either in part or totally. It’s set in the 1950s and 1960s in East London. It also goes over the men they killed or ordered killed. I found it enjoyable as a good true crime read, and I think most who like that genre would also. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author James Morton, and the publisher.


Publisher: Mirror Books – 364 pages
Publication: Nov 14th, 2019
MY RATING: 4/5 Stars

The Author- James Morton was a criminal lawyer and has published many books including Nipper Read, Mad Frank’s Britain, and The Gangland series.