cover image Animal: The Bloody Rise and Fall of the Mob’s Most Feared Assassin

Animal: The Bloody Rise and Fall of the Mob’s Most Feared Assassin

Casey Sherman. Northeastern Univ., $27.95 (280p) ISBN 978-1-55553-822-4

Journalist and true-crime author Sherman (A Rose for Mary: The Hunt for the Real Boston Strangler) profiles mafia hit man turned FBI informant Joe “the Animal” Barboza in this fascinating biography. Barboza’s life of crime began as innocently as such a life can—as a young teen in New Bedford, Mass., he wound up behind bars for petty theft. He then tried his hand at bookmaking and quickly graduated to murder for hire, earning along the way a reputation for savagery—he once bit off part of a man’s cheek during a gang fight. Tied to Barboza’s story is the rise and fall of Providence, R.I.-based mob boss Raymond Patriarca and his second in command, Henry Tameleo. The latter employed Barboza as an assassin, but Patriarca eventually decided Barboza was too dangerous and it was time for the Animal to be put down. That betrayal set off a profusion of deceptions and dangerous grudges which Sherman describes. The author also details the role of crooked FBI agents in the Animal’s story, compromised court cases, infighting among Irish mob groups, and myriad grisly murders. Fans of mafia history will relish this portrait of a forgotten figure from the heyday of organized crime. 17 b&w images. (Apr.)