WHITEY ON TRIAL by Margaret McLean


Secrets, Corruption, and the Search for Truth
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Alternately vivid and limping yarn about the recent Whitey Bulger trial, which ended in the murderous Boston mobster’s imprisonment in August 2013, and the events that set it in motion.

Criminal prosecutor and legal analyst McLean (Under Fire, 2012, etc.) and Howard Stern Show investigative reporter Leiberman have been following the Bulger case for years. While they leave no doubt that Bulger and his associates were the instigators of much recent mayhem, their account indicts a broader pattern of the use of high-end informants to snitch on other high-end informants, which flies in the face of received police wisdom. Says one Massachusetts State Police commander of that tactic, employed by the FBI, “[i]t’s like making a deal with Hitler, and him giving you his field marshals and commanders below”—when, of course, it’s Hitler who’s giving the orders. The strained comparison aside, part of the deal, more than one source suggests, includes someone high up in the FBI leaking information to the perpetrators of some very heinous crimes. In the best case, the authors assert, “the FBI should have been doing more to protect top secret files, especially when informants and cooperating witnesses were getting killed” as a result of that loose information. The blow-by-blow approach lends the book a curious gait: Sometimes the narrative flows swiftly, but when it doesn’t, it grinds down in legal minutiae. Perhaps only John Grisham or Jeffrey Toobin could have done the events literary justice, but sensitive readers will wince at lines such as, “The slender forty-six-year-old woman in the black robe and shoulder length hair adjusted her glasses and shuffled papers” or, “Debbi was a beautiful young blond, full of life. Why did they pull all her teeth and bury her in the basement?”

Indifferent writing aside, the authors deliver some newsworthy revelations that, if proven, would make it difficult to distinguish the good guys from the bad.

Pub Date: Feb. 25th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-7653-3776-4
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Forge
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2014


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