cover image Hitman: The Untold Story of Johnny Martorano: Whitey Bulger's Enforcer and the Most Feared Gangster in the Underworld

Hitman: The Untold Story of Johnny Martorano: Whitey Bulger's Enforcer and the Most Feared Gangster in the Underworld

Howie Carr. Forge, $25.99 (464p) ISBN 978-0-7653-2639-3

Between 1965 and 1982, Johnny Martorano murdered twenty people, most at the behest of famed Boston crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger. In his latest, talk radio host Carr (The Brothers Bulger) carefully traces Martorano's life, from his middle-class upbringing in Somerville, Mass. to his eventual deal with the FBI. Unfortunately, the book becomes bogged down with its multitude of sordid details of hits and shifting alliances. Before Bulger—who formed the Winter Hill Gang and became one of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted before he was arrested in southern California in June, 2011—Martorano worked independently, with ties to both Irish gangs and Boston's Italian organized crime (known as "In Town"). Carr wisely juxtaposes his research with excerpts both from his own interviews with Martorano and snippets of his testimony from the trial of corrupt ex-FBI agent John "Zip" Connelly. Forthright about the murders he committed (his deal with the FBI resulted in a 12-year sentence), Martorano justifies the hits as protecting his friends' and family's best interests. Ironically, when he finds out that Bulger has been a FBI informant for over 30 years, this strict adherence to loyalty compels him to testify. Carr leaves no criminal tie unexamined, but the sheer number of unsavory characters threatens to overwhelm the reader. (May)