Michael Cannell’s A Brotherhood Betrayed: The Man Behind The Rise And Fall Of Murder Inc.

41LFoBB2meL._SX334_BO1,204,203,200_A Brotherhood Betrayed: The Man Behind The Rise And Fall Of Murder Inc. is Michael Cannell’s meticulous look at the life of Abe Reles, and the criminal conspiracies he founded and helped to unravel. While the volume starts with Reles’ life, it is a rare biographical work with good reason to extend years beyond it.

Abe Reles founded one of the most notoriously and efficient mob munder organizations of the 20th century. As a result he would become one of the most useful witnesses in the 1940s for prosecuting mob crimes in an era when other witnesses were frequently being killed by his own group.

There is a moment on page 68 that will feel quite relatable to many readers today. William C Dodge, District Attorney, attempts to bring only a few token charges to bear to the criminals at large and those on the grand jury he is addressing are rightfully furious.

In light of the Louisville cases and Daniel Cameron working to ensure very few chaeges would be considered against the police incovled in the Breonna Taylor killing.

The question of corruption in the police, procecutors office, and government in general permeate this volume to a largw but not necessarily startling degree. Any powerful underworld needs its connections to law enforcement and government in order to best do business. The specific individuals who might have been implicated are of interest here, and the difficult and uneasy nature of the evidence thereof.

Making the endpapers up are  the mugshots of a number of people involved in evemts are an extremely nice touch making the book feel more personal and interesting as an art object. A number of photographs with detailed annotations are included as well, ranging from more mugshots to newspaper photos to gruesome crime scenes. Even photos of Reles body, illustrating the difficulty explaining its position and placement, are presented in the volume. These all help provide a quick but fascinating glimplse into a long passed situation.

There are final acknowledgement of course, and a set of notes that are impressively thorough comes before the index. These are most useful to a reader needing clarity or doing their own research, but immensely welcome in any volume of this kind.

This was a very good book in its time, One Wish also managed to give a new look at organized crime in the Depression and post Depression years for the United States. The events described in the book out with its alleged subject, however this is due in no small part to the wave at his death insured questions related to him would continue on.

Indeed, the questions related to Abe Reles that are so numerous that careers were destroyed by them, and made by them. Denial of guilt have gaping holes, and confessions to the crime do not stand up to scrutiny.

Michael Cannell’s A Brotherhood Betrayed: The Man Behind The Rise And Fall Of Murder Inc. is a good read for someone interested in mid Twentieth Century crime, particularly that centered out of New York. By including rumors and innuendo, as well as those who spread them, it successfully gives the reader an inkling of just how easy it is to become unsecured with such a mottled and in complete set of facts.

(Minotaur, 2020)

Cat Eldridge

I'm the publisher of Green Man Review and Sleeping Hedgehog.

My current reading is the Gareth Powell's Ack Ack Macaque trilogy, Ailette De Bodard’s Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight, and Catherine Valente’s Speakeasy. I’m re-listening to Arkady Martine’s A Memory Called Empire which was my pick for Best Novel Hugo (and it won!) right now, and am waiting for Elizabeth Bear’s next White Space novel, Machine, to come out later this month.

My Autumnal listening leans heavily towards Nordic groups such as Vasen, Frifot, Garmarna and Gjallarhorn. I’m also fond of Celtic trad groups like Altan, Clannad, Dana, De Dannan and Lunasa too this time of year.

I’m catching up on the NCIS series but will switch to Discovery shortly.

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