Murder Machine-Gene Mustain and Jerry Capeci
Stories of the American mafia, and in particular, the Five Families of New York City, are endless. The crime figures that controlled an entire city during the 20th century became legends in the process and even today in 2016, names such as Lucky Luciano, Frank Costello, John Gotti, Paul Castellano and James Burke among others, continue to make headlines as old crimes are investigated and new books are published about the decades long reign of Italian-American organized crime. Today, the mafia is far removed from the height of its power. The RICO Act combined with murderous rampages fueled by jealous and ploys for power, served to bring about the downfall of hundreds of mafia bosses and their subordinates. Their downfalls were often tragic and in many cases, downright violent. The victims often died in horrific manners, sometimes left in abandoned cars on Brooklyn streets and even found frozen stiff in the back of a truck. One of these victims, was the notorious mobster, Roy DeMeo, an associate of the Gambino Crime family.
DeMeo and his crew of psychopathic killers engaged in killing on a scale that rivaled the actions of the former crew of contract killers out of Brownsville, Murder, Inc., during the early half of the 1900s. And although he’s been deceased since 1983, his name and reign of terror remain legendary in mafia history. Gene Mustain and Jerry Capeci bring us their account of DeMeo’s reign of terror in this excellent investigative report that gives the full story of the rise and fall of one of the most violent street crews in New York City history. Carefully researched and aided by firsthand accounts of former associates and witnesses, the duo revisits the past and the early lives of Antonio “Nino” Gaggi, Roy DeMeo and Dominick Montiglio, the only surviving member from DeMeo’s crew.
While society tends to glorify stories about the mob through films and documentaries, this book is anything but that. What we learn in these pages is that the characters we follow, operate in a completely different world. The majority have limited education, are prone to acts of violence and often fall victim to the many vices that lie in wait on the gritty streets of the inner city. Deceit, suspicions, greed and homicidal urges take center stage revealing a complex web that devours nearly all of its participants. The crimes are grisly and the crew’s “disposal” of bodies borders on the macabre. The book is not for the faint of heart but it is the definitive account of the murderous reign of one of Brooklyn’s most feared killers next to the grim reaper himself, Greg Scarpa.
Similar to Goodfellas, the stories are entertaining and thrilling, the fallout is tragic and in the end we are able to see the dark side of a life in crime and the many victims, both living and deceased that are created in the pattern of dysfunction filled with the worst traits a person can have. The authors did a phenomenal job of covering the trials and convictions of the major players. The private and mysterious Walter Mack also makes an appearance and his role and importance in the convictions is on full display. And the heroic efforts of the many detectives that spent countless hours in their investigations are rightfully profiled. Nearly all of the gangsters in the book are gone with almost every single one having met a violent end. However, their names are still mentioned today and their stories continue to be told. Their stories are a critical part of the history of New York and will remain with us until the end of time. For those who enjoy true crime and are fascinated by the inner workings of the American mafia, this book is among the best.