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The Canary Sang but Couldn't Fly: The Fatal Fall of Abe Reles, the Mobster Who Shattered Murder, Inc.'s Code of Silence
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The Canary Sang but Couldn't Fly: The Fatal Fall of Abe Reles, the Mobster Who Shattered Murder, Inc.'s Code of Silence

3.90  ·  Rating Details  ·  29 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
It remains one of the most enduring mysteries in gangland lore: in 1941, while Abe Reles and three other key informants were under round-the-clock NYPD protection, the ruthless and powerful thug took a deadly plunge from the window of a Coney Island hotel. The first criminal of his stature to break the underworld’s code of silence, he had begun “singing” for the courts—giv ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published April 7th 2009 by Union Square Press
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Jan 12, 2015 Trekscribbler rated it really liked it
Like many readers, I have many many interesting subjects that I enjoy exploring. As I would suspect most folks do, I tend to gravitate between certain subjects at any given time; for example, last year, I spent some time reading some Science Fiction classics that had been recommended to me, while the last few weeks has found me devouring the various real crime books I’ve built up on my shelves. In the last six weeks, I’ve worked my way through six different ones – all of them focusing on charact ...more
Wow, this is a truly amazing book. One of the best books about the mob I've ever read. It concerns the career, and more specifically the death, of Abe Reles, a government witness against Murder, Incorporated. The whole second half is essentially a deconstruction of the investigative process, in which it is painfully obvious to everyone (including to members of Congress) that there was a major cover-up -- but no one can figure out quite what happened. It's a bit of a police procedural at times, w ...more
Jeff Jellets
Nov 11, 2014 Jeff Jellets rated it it was amazing

A gritty gangland murder mystery stocked with reprehensible villains and vile misdeeds!

Author Edmund Elmaleh offers a compelling account of the rise and fall (both literally and figuratively) of the notorious mobster Abe Reles in The Canary Sang But Couldn’t Fly. A gritty, true crime story, Elmaleh pens a pulpy chronicle of Reles’s climb from underworld kingpin to squealer, as he is pinched by the Brooklyn D.A. and breaks the mob’s supposedly sacrosanct code of silence to rat out his former comp
i found this book entirely disappointing. while i understand that the focus on the book was the mystery surrounding reles' death i thought that, considering the fact that no one actually knows what happened, the book could have spent a little more time covering his life. in a sense i feel that books about other gangsters gave a better idea of what reles was like than elmaleh did. there were some details that i had read in multiple other sources that seemed strangely missing here (like the cause ...more
Jun 20, 2013 Thomas rated it liked it
Shelves: true-crime
A complete telling of Abe Reles's life, his underworld career as a Murder Inc. assassin and his spectacular death, this book is also a study of the various investigations into Reles's supposed accidental drop from a hotel window and a careful examination of Reles-homicide theories.

The legendary snitch goes out the sixth-floor window of the Half Moon Hotel on Page 74, leaving Elmaleh plenty of time to critique the various views of that event. The author does so authoritatively. He dismisses the o
Sep 20, 2009 Rose rated it it was amazing
When mob informer Abe Reles fell out a hotel window while in protective custody, an investigation followed that has never been completely laid to rest. Did he die while trying to escape? Or was he murdered?

Abe ‘Kid Twist’ Reles was once the most dreaded contract killer in Brooklyn. As part of the Murder Inc hit team, he shot, stabbed, and strangled with unholy enjoyment. But when confronted with evidence that could strap him into the electric chair, he made a deal with Brooklyn D.A. William O’D
Jun 01, 2010 Steven rated it liked it
I enjoyed reading this, and I thought the author did a decent job. The story gave me some sense of Reles' character using the descriptions of his actions, and the observations and actions in response to Reles by those associated with him. There are limitations in describing historical events, but I thought this was a worthwhile effort especially in trying to explore who killed Reles. I thought there should have been more description of the events leading to Reles becoming a witness. Also, I thin ...more
Oct 25, 2014 Richard rated it really liked it
Kid Twist died for you.
Jun 24, 2012 Maura rated it it was amazing
A great book on the history of organized crime and the politics that surround it. It leaves you wondering "what if?" And I really like that the author didn't take a side, he presented the so-called evidence and possible theories. A good, quick read!
Jan 26, 2013 Lynn rated it liked it
The writing in this book is terrible. However, the story and information is so good that the poor writing is forgivable.
Aug 31, 2011 Mama rated it really liked it
So interested in historical mob literature. Great story. Still a mystery...
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