True Crime Books

book review | Dopesick by Beth Macy

dopesick beth macyAuthor: Beth Macy
Title: Dopesick
Series: –
Genre: Nonfiction; Science
Pages: 384
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

Dopesick” by Beth Macy is dark, strong, and very scary. Mostly because that the tale it tells is true, happening today and will happen tomorrow.

About the Book: Mind ruled by opium is mind not your own, and yet… How are you supposed to live in reality, when you saw life, world, at its very best? Starting with Soldier’s Disease, to whom opium was given for obvious reasons, later in form of heroin, from where the title of the drug originates. Continuing with pharma pushing medicine and claiming its not addictive, doctors who over-prescribed them, and people who believed these greed embodiments have their best interest at hand. And ending with a system meant to keep you, and never let you go. User, abuser, gets arrested, gets no treatment, then is thrown out with no means to get apartment or food stamps, with very vague possibilities of job… They go back to dealer, ask for a favor, resell some, pay back, use up some to not see this darkness a failed system put them in. They get arrested, get no treatment, and the cycle continues until, usually, young death.

My Opinion: It’s scary to read of a mother who cared for household and kids like a superhero. Who needed a simple surgery, and got oxyContin prescribed for the pain. It’s scary how fast her life becomes a slope going down at terrifying speed. Scary how systematic racism ties into this too. The book is strongly written, it’s very clear, and will scare off many, I hope.

Read it. Give it to your kids to read it too. 5 out of 5.

Categories: 5-5, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction, Science Books, True Crime Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

book review | Master Thieves by Stephen Kurkjian | true crime

master thieves boston gangsters stephen kurkjian art heist bookAuthor: Stephen Kurkjian
Title: Master Thieves
Series: –
Genre: True Crime; Heist
Pages: 272
Rate: 4/5 | Goodreads

I had to brush the dust off “Master Thieves” by Stephen Kurkjian, that’s how long it sat in my TBR pile.

About the Book: In 1990 thirteen pieces of artwork have been stolen from a low security Boston museum. And to this day the case remains open, with even the Boston gangsters trying to help out. For the heist was so perfect, covering every loose end so well, that the art remains missing, and the case remains unsolved.

My Opinion: The book is not very interesting to read, and I dare say its due to a tad dry-ish writing style, because its good for what it is. Well paced, with plenty of details, and on interesting topic. Doesn’t get you invested though.

It’s worth the while if you like books about heists. A 4 out of 5 from me.

Categories: 4-5, Books: Crime, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction, heists, True Crime Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

book review | Call me God by Jim Clemente

call me god jim clementeAuthor: Jim Clemente, Tim Clemente, Peter McDonnell
Title: Call Me God: The Untold Story of DC Sniper Investigation
Series: –
Genre: True Crime, Nonfiction
Pages: 7.4 h
Rate: 4/5 | Goodreads

As recommendations go, “Call me God” by Jim Clemente was a very fair one. Got to rest from all the sci-fi and learned more of god complex.

About the Book: First of its kind, a duo team of snipers is terrorizing United States, and so soon after the 9/11 attacks. Snipers usually work alone, taking life from afar, unseen, almighty. People are getting shot at random, panic and misinformation spreads like wildfire. No one is safe anymore. And how does one catch someone who thinks himself god, who rules masses with a pull of a trigger?

My Opinion: I generally like true crime, but it’s always hard for me to enjoy tales of murderers and killers. A life should never be cheaper than own ego, and most of them, this one (or two) included, are fools. Like children who didn’t get to do whatever the hell they wanted, they take a tantrum to a whole new level. How does one think self so very right, that one never stops to think of the actions being committed? What a base beast one must be…

In general, the book is written and told well. It’s just not my cup of tea. 4 out of 5.

Categories: 4-5, Books: Crime, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction, murder, serial killers, True Crime Books | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

book review | “Fentanyl, Inc.” by Ben Westhoff

fentanyl inc ben westhoffAuthor: Ben Westhoff
Title: Fentanyl, Inc.
Series: –
Genre: NonFiction; Documentary
Pages: 356
Rate: 4/5 | Goodreads

Got “Fentanyl, Inc.” by Ben Westhoff recommended to me as befitting my usual Netflix docuseries love: that of drug world. It was indeed very fitting, and taught me some things.

About the Book: Author ventures out to find some answers about Fentanyl. Why and where is it produced, how does it get places, and why so many drug users still keep dying from it. While the first two questions are hard to answer, the last one becomes clear early on: it is because a drug user out to get their fix don’t usually seek out fentanyl, but got no power over what their drugs were cut with. And governments are extremely reluctant if not outright hostile towards any attempts to keep them safe by, say, providing drug-test kits or safe-houses. So, overdosing becomes a daily occurrence.

My Opinion: It’s an oversimplified review I’m doing. The book is informative, but not dry, and is accessible even to someone like me: with no knowledge on medical or chemistry topics. So while not the best out there, with some added annoyance every time author falls off topic and doesn’t stop until you half-forgot what was the original theme here, it’s still pretty good.

Might be worth reading on a free day. A solid 4 out of 5 from me.

Categories: 4-5, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction, Science Books, True Crime Books | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

book review | Hollywood Godfather by Gianni Russo | memoir

hollywood godfather gianni russo gangster mobsterAuthor: Gianni Russo
Title: Hollywood Godfather
Series: –
Genre: Memoir; True Crime
Pages: 304
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

While “Hollywood Godfather” by Gianni Russo has its own issues and problems, deriving mostly from the times it all took place in, and the inequality dominating the masses back then, the story itself was a fascinating read.

About the Book: If you’re wondering where you’ve heard the name or seen the face – Carlo Rizzi from Godfather, and many more. A real life mobster in a movie about mobsters, and he wasn’t even the only one. Gianni Russo tells us in detail how the movie got produced, what events took place, and what people got to be in it. Being a business man at the core, he also mentions what markup he made on soda cans he was selling to the crews. From estrangement with his parents, to first business ventures re-selling pens, to meeting a mobster who’ll become a father figure, to making it in the world. Gianni Russo leaves us with words: “yes, you can“, so if you needed any more motivation…

My Opinion: It was funny to read about the need to fake danger for the bright stars rubbing shoulders with mobsters, wanting to imagine they’re part of this thrilling world. From trash bags filled with newspapers, to introductions. Even more fun was to read about all the people Gianni Russo knew, such as Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and so on, what where they like. There’s many historical events too, mob orchestrated happenings involving politicians, assassinations, and such. And while I wish he would’ve spoken out about some issues, instead of just glossing over them, I enjoyed the book, and the people I get to know in it. Some things will never look the same ever again.

I never know how to rate a memoir. It’s one thing to rate a creation, a whole other to rate someone’s life. So, taking in writing, and how captivating it was, I give it a 5 out of 5.

 

Categories: 5-5, Biographies, Books: Crime, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction, crews, gangs, etc, mafia, True Crime Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

book review | Talking with Psychopaths and Savages by Christopher Berry-Dee | true crime

talking with psychopaths and savages christopher berry-dee.jpgAuthor: Christopher Berry-Dee
Title: Talking with Psychopaths and Savages
Series: –
Genre: True Crime; Nonfiction
Pages: 288
Rate: 3/5 | Goodreads

Some authors just stick them sticks into their own damn wheels. “Talking with Psychopaths and Savages” by Christopher Berry-Dee is precisely one of those books. Fitting a quote by someone: after all been said and done, more been said than done.

About the Book: Author, hurriedly and in big, pompous sentences promises us to show the mind of a psychopath, their lives, nuances, patterns that might have made them the way they are. He promises to not waste time on murder and case details either, for there are many books on these topics. And then proceeds telling us the tales of serial killers, their lives, medical impairments that might have had impact, their family statuses, upbringing, differences and similarities. And details on murders, cases. With thick inlays of opinions.

My Opinion: Not much to add here. Author’s best trait in these times of serial killer admiration is the fact that he proceeds to often point out: he’s not a fan of theirs. In fact, he drags them time and again, which was the most amusing bit in this book.

Can’t say it’s bad. Can’t say it’s good. Maybe a lazy read. I give it a 3 out of 5.

Categories: 3-5, Books: Crime, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction, General, serial killers, True Crime Books | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

book review | American Kingpin by Nick Bilton

american kingin silk road nick biltonAuthor: Nick Bilton
Title: American Kingpin
Series: –
Genre: True Crime; Biography
Pages: 328
Rate: 4/5 | Goodreads

Everyone has likely heard of the Dark Web. Possibly even the Silk Road on it, one of the most notorious sites on the other side of the internet. American Kingpin by Nick Bilton is a book about its creator, biography of a man who made a dark market place so resilient, it still exists, even after his imprisonment for life.

About the Book: Dark Web is a strange and, well, dark place. And yet we’re separated from it by a mere browser and a few clicks. But most of us spend all our lives unaware of this Other Side, let alone venturing into it. In the end, that’s really the point: to remain invisible, unmonitored, anonymous. Ross Ulbricht was merely one of the many people with questionable morals, who found a way and justification to exploit the human need for the forbidden, the dangerous, and the illegal. According to him, a government has no right to tell us what we put in our bodies, we ought to remain autonomous over it. And yet substance fitting excuses evolved to accommodate such things as weapons, organs, and even suicide kits, manuals and all.

And while Ross was eventually found and imprisoned for life, Silk Road remains active and is now known as the most resilient dark market place on the whole Dark Web.

My Opinion: Let me just clarify right now: not only do I not suggest you go see for yourself, I very much suggest you don’t. Your safety depends on more than just a browser, believe you me. Rather, read this book first and see what little, minuscule things have finally brought this Kingpin down and brought FBI to his doorstep. As for the book itself, it’s good. Clever writing will not bore those who are familiar with the tale, and will ease in, and entertain those who had no clue such a place existed or could even be possible.

It’s a good book I could recommend for the mere fact of how well it portrays our fragility of safety online. 4 out of 5, solid.

Categories: 4-5, Biographies, Books: Crime, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction, True Crime Books | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

book review | Tokyo Vice by Jake Adelstein

tokyo vice jake adelstein japan crime book coverAuthor: Jake Adelstein
Title: Tokyo Vice
Series: –
Genre: Nonfiction; Memoir
Pages: 335
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

Ah, I wish I knew how good Tokyo Vice by Jake Adelstein is sooner. For it fell down my TBR list quite a few times. But hey, I got to it at last, and it’s better later than never!

About the Book: Jake learns Japanese and moves there in pursuit for journalist career. The rules are different there, and the book picks up the pace here, setting up an amusing tune of this white jewish man jumping traditions and politeness hoops in a foreign country. All that said, work goes well, including the whole structure of building relationships with co-workers, sources, cops… Which can get quite costly.

One day a yakuza contacts him, letting him know that Jake’s name was mentioned in trustworthiness context. This is where the story starts getting darker, for Jake gets to see beyond Love Hotels, Hostess clubs, where people dress up for you, to be your best friend until you run out of money. Beyond that there’s dark, gritty, nightmarish web of debt, loan sharks, human trafficking, and destroyed lives.

My Opinion: This is a very, very masterfully written book. With facts, memories, experiences  woven into one smooth if nightmarish tale. Don’t know about you, but Japan to me was always that dream country, something exotic and far, far away, so very different from anything we know here. But truth is much more simple. Yes, there’s differences. Yes, there’s plenty of pros, pluses. But there’s just as many cons, minuses. Just as in any country.

A very good book. Reminded me of this one I read long ago called “Yakuza Moon“. This one gets a 5 out of 5. And no, it is not made to slander. Merely a country this journalist lived in, a place where he found this, and was in a position to make a difference, no matter how small.

Categories: 5-5, Biographies, Books: Crime, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction, mafia, murder, True Crime Books | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

book review | McMafia by Misha Glenny

mcmafia misha glenny book cover underworld criminal organized crimeAuthor: Misha Glenny
Title: McMafia
Series: –
Genre: True Crime, Nonfiction
Pages: 398
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

I love reading sensible literature on organized crime, where author doesn’t choose a side, and, due to moral obligations, doesn’t try to paint one or another side a deeper shade of one color. One of such well balanced books is McMafia by Misha Glenny, who has a very healthy view on this all.

About the Book: This book goes through a variety of organized, global crime, its underground industries and their origins. From the times of economy downfalls through, say, the fall of soviet union, or the breaking of Berlin wall, to today. And all across the world.

Crime takes many forms and shapes. And so do reasons for it. Be it extreme poverty and thus a need to make a buck for bread by stealing or selling, or selling the stolen. Or be it flaws in law, criminalization of something you require. It could be medication your country deemed illegal. Or it could be part of your lifestyle: from illegal caviar, to illegal counterfeits. And many more, including drug cartels, mafia, mafiozos of Russia, yakuza, hackers, crackers, and so on. And you know what’s the worst of it? We too are a part of it.

My Opinion: This is a very smoothly written book, with sensible steps from one topic, to another. Each one of those is explained in depths, with origins of criminal organization at hand, how it came to be, to what it does, how it does it, and why it does it, if applies. To actual governments, and law: how they’re handling it, if handling it at all. As for our involvement, well, that’s true. And it’s scary. From materials required to, say, build our laptops, where a company doesn’t ask about the origins of this metal, or that dye. To scam emails, engineered web pages, and our inability to take precautions while on that enticing world wide web.

This is a very worthy read that I would highly recommend to anyone. I give it a 5 out of 5, for many, many reasons.

Categories: 5-5, Books: Crime, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction, crews, gangs, etc, mafia, True Crime Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

book review | Go Down Together by Jeff Guinn

bonnie and clyde true crime go down together jeff guinn biography book coverAuthor: Jeff Guinn
Title: Go Down Together
Series: –
Genre: True Crime, Biography
Pages: 468
Rate: 5/5 | Goodreads

I always had a liking to Bonnie and Clyde stories, but somehow never watched or read any true, not romanticized stuff about them. After all, I didn’t even know that at first they weren’t Bonnie and Clyde, but rather Clyde and Bonnie. But then, a few days back, I watched this great Netflix movie “The Highwaymen” and decided I must take that one book that I have on the pair of criminals two rangers were pursuing there. The Go Down Together by Jeff Guinn.

About: Everyone has at least heard of the famous bank robbers in love, Bonnie and Clyde, who robbed together, ran together, shot together, and died together too. But rarely anyone knows what those two were really like, and what was their life on the road, on the run.

Both Bonnie and Clyde grew up and lived during the Great Depression, when the economy in United States fell so very drastically, that a young man would find it hard to get a job, and a young woman would likely add to her meager pay by finding a different sort of clientele. Yet one shouldn’t be fooled. These two were not so much pushed into the life in crime, as they leaped to it seeking thrill, action, and fame. They got it, alright, but one’s left to wonder if they’d be happy with the price they paid for it. The cold nights in make-shift camping spots, cold food in fear that a fire would be spotted, injuries that left them both crippled, and no way back to a normal life.

Mine: This is a dark story with an almost humorous streak to it. Both Bonnie and Clyde had their share of misfortune and even cruelty. Luck seemed to turn away from them when they most needed it. But they rolled with the punches as best they could, charming public who, for once, had entertainment in their lives. Bonnie and Clyde stole from businesses and banks, rarely touching clerk’s wallet, so it’s almost like they didn’t rob the poor, poor thought. They’d steal your car, but leave it where you could retrieve it. And if you rather had insurance money, all you had to do was ask, and they’d happily drop it in a ditch, and set it on fire. This is what public saw, and this is why they often turned a blind eye on this pair. All while they dealt with the dark side criminal world, hell, barely its surface, for no true criminal took them very seriously, was serving.

Author did a great job of making a smooth story to not feel dull. At all times it’ll keep your attention, and you’ll come out knowing who the famous or infamous pair truly was. I’m giving it a strong 5 out of 5, and recommend you watch The Highwaymen at some point too.

Categories: 5-5, Books: Crime, Books: Everything, Books: NonFiction, heists, True Crime Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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