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A Boston Whodunnit

Thrilling history and crime in Beantown.

Book Cover Boston, which has variously proclaimed itself the Athens of America and The Hub of the Universe, counts in its history a number of events well known to non-residents, most of which have to do with crime: the Boston Massacre; the Boston Police Strike of 1919 and also the Great Molasses Flood of that year; the persecution and execution of Sacco and Vanzetti; the Boston Strangler; the Great Brinks Job; the School Busing Crisis (and of course there was the famous photo of African-American Ted Landsmark being chased by angry white youths wielding an American flag, but I digress); The Gardner Museum Heist; and the lethal shenanigans of crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger.

Lawyer David Hosp (Innocence), a Boston native, has conjoined the last two—the third-of-a-billion-dollar museum theft and Whitey Bulger, whose activities included FBI complicity and spawned a local literary cottage industry best represented by Black Mass—in Among Thieves (Grand Central Publishing), a fast-paced and convincing crime story (with an IRA subplot thrown in).

Devin Malley, a marginally successful thief and occasional South Boston crime-gang foot soldier, is busted stealing high-end lingerie from a Newbury Street boutique. He begs his lawyer Finn (who grew up on Southie’s mean boulevards) to 1) spring him quickly so he might investigate who set him up, and 2) take care of his newly discovered teenaged daughter (abandoned on his doorstep by her crackhead mother). Finn’s partners, Lizza, a hardnosed paralegal, and Kowzlowski, an ex-Boston cop turned P.I., are wary of Finn’s involvement. Winter Hill gang functionaries start turning up horrifically murdered, which brings in doesn’t-play-well-with-others Latina Homicide detective Elorea Sanchez and her new partner Paul Stone. There is, of course, the FBI, still suffering from the scandalous illegalities of convicted former agent John Connally, and a stone-cold IRA killer.

As they say, it’s a page turner that gives a reasonable feel for life in (even avoiding this overused appellation) Beantown without trying too hard. If you like this novel, Richard Marinick’s Boyos is a standout fiction, also set in the criminal crucible of Southie.
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