Lance Charnes's Reviews > Crime School: Money Laundering: True Crime Meets the World of Business and Finance

Crime School by Chris Mathers
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really liked it
bookshelves: nonfiction-crime-espionage, reviewed
Recommended for: Fans of real cops telling tales

Say you walk into your neighborhood bar and run across an ex-cop, maybe an ex-Mountie. So you buy him a beer, because what the hell, you always liked Dudley Do-Right. And the guy starts telling stories -- about wiseguys and not-so-wiseguys, about scams he pulled undercover, about how money works for criminals. You keep the Labatts or Molsons coming, and he keeps talking. He's got good stories and a cop's darkish sense of humor. You get a good evening's entertainment for the price of a few drafts.

Or, if that ex-Mountie happens to be Chris Mathers, you get Crime School: Money Laundering.

Mathers worked undercover for twenty years for the RCMP and with the DEA, FBI and various other three-letter agencies, posing as a money launderer. Now he teaches financial firms and government agencies about money laundering and illicit money flows. He's got the ground-level experience and the inside knowledge to write a primer billed as "a rare and fascinating look at a deadly world few have ever witnessed and lived to tell the story." His prose is simple and unaffected -- no literary stylist he -- and while the book is split up into thematic chapters, they jink from one thing to the next as if he's coming up with this stuff off-the-cuff. The contrast to Money Laundering Through Art: A Criminal Justice Perspective couldn't be more stark.

However, Crime School and Money Laundering Through Art do share one thing: by the end of both of them, you still won't know much about how dirty money gets clean. You'll learn about the players, the milieu and the history; Mathers will teach you some of the lingo; but when you turn the last page, you'll be hard put to describe in any detail any of the many ways to make your ill-gotten cash squeaky clean.

Whether this is a problem for you is your call. Crime School is a true-crime textbook you can read like a short novel. You can breeze through it and get some good war stories and feel a little smarter at the end. If, however, you're looking for some hard, detailed information about how money laundering works -- either for research or for career development -- look some more.

I have no idea how to rate this book. On one hand, Mathers is good company and he tells a good tale, so this was a fun (if you're into this kind of thing) read, certainly way more so than de Sanctis' thinner but far denser effort. On the other hand, I didn't get from it what I was looking for, which admittedly may be too specialized to count for much. What does that add up to? I'll give it the benefit of the doubt and say four stars, but be aware of that big asterisk next to the rating.
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Reading Progress

September 13, 2014 – Started Reading
September 13, 2014 – Shelved
September 19, 2014 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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message 1: by Jim (new)

Jim I read & liked your other review, too. I guess no one wants to give us the "Anarchist Cookbook" version, eh?

Lance Charnes That's what I've been looking for. Of course, Treasury will come out for a talk if I find it.

message 3: by Jim (new) - added it

Jim Crocker Sounds great to me! Check out Sneaky Pete on Netflix, too.

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