cover image The Octopus: Europe in the Grip of Organized Crime

The Octopus: Europe in the Grip of Organized Crime

Brian Freemantle. Trafalgar Square Publishing, $29.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-85797-609-0

As the 15-nation European Union (EU) struggles to consolidate, crime continues to increase throughout the continent. Within two years, asserts Freemantle (author of the Charlie Muffin spy series), organized crime will be out of control in Europe. He catalogues the threats to law and order, including traffic in nuclear arms, the drug trade, art theft and counterfeiting, terrorism, prostitution and pornography, kidnapping children to harvest their body parts for organ transplants, money laundering and computer crime. Much of this criminal activity, he sets out to show, comes from the Mafia and ""freemasonry lodges that cloak organized crime."" The author asserts further that the vacuum left by the collapse of Communist regimes in Eastern Europe has given rise to well-organized gangs. Among the steps he feels may help rectify the situation: legalizing marijuana, decriminalizing hard drugs, converting Europol into a kind of FBI. Freemantle's assertions are sometimes undercut by disclaimers that he is ""unable, legally, to name"" many of his sources, but he seems to have done his homework diligently, producing a generally well-detailed work that raises alarming questions not only about the rampant spread of organized crime but also about the future of U.S.-European relations. (Nov.)