Wednesday July 6th, 2011

In the True Crime Stacks

After completing a brief stretch of true-crime reading last year, I tried to find lists of other recommendations. A lot of books in the genre get suggested over and over again. But Peter Manso has a list of 10, a few of which were unfamiliar to me and sound intriguing, including Blood and Money by Thomas Thompson. (“Now nearly forty years old, this account of a Houston society marriage gone bad remains compellingly readable, a Thackeray-like novel-of-manners set among oil money and the new rich.”) But perhaps most Backlist-friendly is one writer I’ve never heard of, whose Amazon page is littered with “No Image Available”:

Rather than pick an individual title, I broadly nominate the books of the late Hank Messick, ex-Louisville Courier-Journal reporter who helped to set the standard for unflinching investigative reporting on crooks, gamblers, thieves, and mobsters. Of Messick’s 19 books, I’d recommend The Silent Syndicate (1967) that traced the rise of the so-called Purple Gang in Cleveland during Prohibition; Razzle-Dazzle (1995), his probe of Newport, Ky., gambling, and his bio, Lansky (1971), that depicted the eponymous mobster as a financial genius.