Set a thief to catch a thief—or, in this instance, a drug dealer to ferret out a murderer’s secrets.
Keene enjoyed a sterling youth, his parents pillars of the community, himself a football hero and, in early adulthood, the owner of several businesses. “Wherever I stayed,” he writes, “the latest Corvette was always in the driveway, with a crotch rocket and a Harley in the garage and a hot girl in the bedroom.” Fortunately, the rest of the book is better written, doubtless through the agency of veteran journalist Levin (Grand Delusions: The Cosmic Career of John DeLorean, 1983, etc.). Keene owed much of his material success to a friendly, business-savvy sideline as a drug dealer. When the law finally caught up to him, however, an especially vigorous prosecutor saw to it that he earned a ten-year prison term. A year later, the authors recount, that prosecutor came calling with a curious offer, asking Keene to cozy up to a convicted murderer to find out where he had buried one of his victims and secure evidence to link him with some 20 unsolved killings. In exchange, Keene would be released from prison. As Keene eventually learned, that killer, suitably deranged—“Sometimes I dream about killing women,” he told a police interrogator—had more victims to his credit than anyone had yet realized, but getting that information was a challenge, not just because of the legal requirements of the job but also because the killer was cagey. His hatred of the prosecutor helped, and in time Keene was able to gain the killer’s trust, learning of his carefully thought-out methods and getting “a solid confession out of him.”
A low-key but fascinating view of life behind bars that deserves a wide audience, if only as a deterrent to crime.