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The Black Hand: The Epic War Between a Brilliant Detective and the Deadliest Secret Society in American History
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October 2020: Other Books > [The Black Hand: The Epic War Between a Brilliant Detective and the Deadliest Secret Society in American History by Stephan Talty rounded up to 4 stars

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Karin | 7262 comments This is about a secret Italian group of extortioners (and kidnappers and murderers) who came to the US in the late 19th century and the fight against them. Much of hit centres on the Italian-American detective Joseph Petrosino who started with the NYPD in the sanitation department (that's right, clearing the streets of garbage, horse manure, dead horses, etc) and worked his way up. He was promoted to Detective by future president Theodore Roosevelt who was heading a campaign to fix the NYPD and make it become a more effective police force. I was not surprised to learn that this book has been made into a movie when I did an internet search on the Black Hand. Petrosino was brilliant at going undercover--he could literally become the person he was pretending to be, but even after he was known, he still was able to to excellent work. He also kept trying to get more and more people into the fight against this group since they would change tactics and methods as he caught on to theirs.

The writing is strong for the most part. I have read some of the reviews (Most are good, some are not) and some complain that he focuses too much on Petrosino, but the subtitle says it all--this is the epic war between the two in that the detective was an extremely important person on the side of the law. The writing isn't perfect, but this book is not as dry or as boring as one might expect for a book full of facts and anecdotes used to illustrate what went on.


message 2: by Joanne (last edited Oct 16, 2020 06:15AM) (new)

Joanne (joabroda1) | 8004 comments I just read Elizabeth Street, which features Petrosino in it's story. I have this one my TBR and wish I had time to get to it. Maybe in November, if Books to Movie wins in tags. Thanks for noting that it was movie, I never knew. Nice review.


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