cover image A Brotherhood Betrayed: The Man Behind the Rise and Fall of Murder, Inc.

A Brotherhood Betrayed: The Man Behind the Rise and Fall of Murder, Inc.

Michael Cannell. Minotaur, $27.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-250-20438-7

Cannell (Incendiary: The Psychiatrist, the Mad Bomber and the Invention of Criminal Profiling) provides the definitive account of hit man Abe Reles (1906–1941), who served as the “assassin-in-chief” for the Italian-Jewish mob collaboration known as Murder, Inc.. Reles started his life of crime as a teenager in New York City, as an enforcer for a local racketeer, before his violent nature escalated to homicide. Brooklyn district attorney William O’Dwyer cut a deal with him in 1940 in exchange for testimony against the leaders of Murder, Inc. That bargain provided the prosecutor with a valuable witness who revealed “another America hidden in shadow with its own banks and penal system, its own tax code and law enforcement.” But before Reles could testify, he fell to his death from a Brooklyn hotel window while in protective custody. O’Dwyer supported the theory that Reles fell accidentally during an escape attempt, and though that position was widely derided, no conclusive proof was ever found as to who pushed Reles out the window. Cannell dials in the the right level of detail in this grim story of violence, corruption, and the dogged efforts of law enforcement to break organized crime’s hold on New York City. Readers interested in a non-sensationalized treatment of a major chapter in American crime will be riveted. [em]Agent: Joy Harris, Joy Harris Literary. (Oct.) [/em]