“He would shoot you in the head over a cold ravioli.” When it comes to mob psychos, Chicago Tribune writer Coen writes, there’s no place like the Windy City.
With players like Joey “The Clown” Lombardo, Tony “Big Tuna” Accardo and Jimmy “Poker” DiForti, it could hardly be otherwise. For decades, writes the author, the Chicago Mafia maintained a unified front, working under “one ‘Old Man,’ a shadow mayor of sorts” and, unlike its East Coast counterpart, holding strictly to the time-honored code of silence. Fortunately for the law, the Chicago Outfit, as it was known, had its share of human foibles. When things got ugly, torn by drugs and power feuds, some of the syndicate’s foot soldiers went freelance. One was Frank Calabrese Jr., son of a powerful loan shark, who provided the FBI with juicy details about such events as the slaying of the brothers Spilotro, young punks doomed by their habitual boasting, among other transgressions. Calabrese acquired these details by secretly recording his father, who was then cooling his heels in the pen, and from the tapes the feds slowly pieced together a decades-long history of the Outfit’s maneuverings in Chicago. When they had assembled enough data, they commenced a prosecution, the legal outcome of which was still unknown as Coen’s book went to press. One telling point of the government’s argument adverted to pop culture: “This is not The Sopranos; this is not The Godfather,” said one prosecutor. “This case is about real people and real victims.” So it was, and Coen does a creditable job of telling about their star-crossed lives.
A telling look inside the twisted world of organized crime, sure to interest those who follow mob mayhem.