Gang Mom

Fred Rosen, Author St. Martin's Press $6.5 (256p) ISBN 978-0-312-96810-6
Expanding on his 1997 Reader's Digest article, Rosen (former New York Times columnist) explores the lives of Mary Thompson and the teenage members of her Eugene, Ore., gang--the 74 Hoover Crips. Although seeming to be an anti-gang activist--as evidenced in speeches she gave at local high schools--Thompson convinced her posse that 17-year-old Aaron Iturra, whom she had entrusted to protect her son, needed to be killed. Detectives investigating the case came to her for help; what they found instead was a hidden past of recurrent crimes and lies. At first, police were doubtful they could get Thompson for murder and were prepared to settle for lesser charges, but thanks to her own incriminating statements through police wiretaps and while on the stand, she was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. While Rosen displays an extensive knowledge of gang lifestyle and terminology, as well as of police procedure and investigative techniques, his frequent interjections to the narrative (""Scripted tears, spare me!"") only point out the obvious and detract from the overall effect. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 11/30/1998
Release date: 12/01/1998
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