Erin's Reviews > Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob

Black Mass by Dick Lehr
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's review
Aug 05, 09

bookshelves: true-crime, boston
Read in July, 2009

Written by two Boston Globe reporters who covered the story for many years, the book details infamous mobster Whitey Bulger's decades-long deal with the FBI that allowed him to effectively rule Boston's underworld unchallenged.

It's one of the those stories that's so crazy you can't believe it actually happened. Super ambitious and morally compromised FBI agents make a deal with up-and-coming Irish mobsters to exchange information about the Italian mob in exchange for immunity from prosecution. The Irish mobsters turn in all the other bad guys in town and are able to get away with their own loan sharking, extortion and murder plots due to FBI protection. Multiple indictments against them vaporize, confounding police and prosecutors. By the time the press and local cops finally figure out what's going on, Bulger has been tipped off and fled the area.

The writers unravel the series of events that led to Bulger's ultimate escape from justice and it's pretty fascinating stuff. The narrative is clear and concise, filled with quotes, interviews, passages taken from police and FBI files, etc. It really gives you a sense of the various forces at work and the motivations on all sides of the situation. I found this to be very compelling non-fiction.
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