EVIL EMPIRE: The Irish Mob and the Assassination of Veronica Guerin

Paul Williams, Author
Paul Williams, Author . Forge $24.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-7653-0841-2
Reviewed on: 11/10/2003
Release date: 12/01/2003
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-7653-1182-5
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Using the high-profile murder of Dublin crime journalist Veronica Guerin in 1996 as the impetus for this book, Williams digs deep into the past of her killers, Ireland's most notorious organized crime gang. Starting in the late 1960s, Williams's exhaustive history of each gangster reads like an Irish Goodfellas as these neighborhood street toughs, led by would-be godfather John Gilligan, move from petty crimes and factory heists to counterfeit scams, international drug running and cold-blooded murder. While exposing the gang's ruthless dealings, Williams (The General ) also touches on the limited powers of the Irish police force and courts to keep these criminals, many of whom were arrested repeatedly at a young age, behind bars. And while Irish mobsters don't generally get the same type of attention as their paramilitary countrymen, the sheer size of the international police operation needed to arrest Gilligan and his cronies speaks to the power of their "multi-million pound" crime syndicate and why they reacted so violently to Guerin's attempts to expose their dealings. The personal tone of this book reflects Williams's working relationship with Guerin and his direct contact, through interviews and inside sources, with Gilligan. Thanks to detailed research and unmatched familiarity with Ireland's underworld, Williams, also a seasoned Irish crime reporter, never loses his grip on the story. For anyone interested in the movie Veronica Guerin or who thought organized crime only involved Italians, this book provides a chilling glimpse into the backstory of an Irish gang that thought itself above the law and set out to prove it. (Dec.)

Forecast: Pubbing two months after the launch of Jerry Bruckheimer's film Veronica Guerin is sure to get this book attention—though an earlier release would have had a better effect on sales.

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