A Casablanca without heroes and just the thing for those who like their crime stories the darkest shade of noir.

CITY OF DEVILS

THE TWO MEN WHO RULED THE UNDERWORLD OF OLD SHANGHAI

Fast-paced, plot-twisty true-crime tale of the kingpins of Shanghai’s Old City, land of miscreant opportunity.

The old “Terry & the Pirates” comic strip had it right: The mysterious East was just the place for an enterprising lawbreaker to homestead. So it was for a sad sack named Jack “Lucky” Riley, who changed his name after releasing himself on his own recognizance from a stateside prison. He skipped across the Pacific to the Philippines and “buddie[d] up with the Navy boys and jump[ed] a U.S. Army transport heading for Shanghai.” In his past life, Riley had boxed for the Navy, and he knew his way around a ring and a gaming table. It wasn’t long before he graduated from flophouse to better digs and began to run his own gambling empire, clashing with a tightly run syndicate of Viennese Jews headed by “Dapper” Joe Farren, whom the press styled as a kind of China-based version of Flo Ziegfield. Other figures, including tequila smuggler Carlos Garcia and New York mobster “Yasha” Katzenberg, enter and exit French’s (Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China, 2012, etc.) carefully constructed stage, each one up to no good. In addition to this suspenseful yarn, the author paints a striking portrait of a Shanghai on the eve of Japanese occupation, which would bring many a crime empire to its knees. Before then, foreign governments were as keen on divvying up the spoils as the gangsters were. Even if one jurist intoned that “we will have no Chicago on the Whangpoo,” French’s hard-boiled narrative makes it clear why Chinese partisans resented the presence of the foreign barbarians, to say nothing of unfortunate collaborators like Cabbage Moh, whose head ended up on a pole “as a reminder that nobody gets to play both sides in their Shanghai.”

A Casablanca without heroes and just the thing for those who like their crime stories the darkest shade of noir.

Pub Date: July 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-17058-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Picador

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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IN COLD BLOOD

"There's got to be something wrong with somebody who'd do a thing like that." This is Perry Edward Smith, talking about himself. "Deal me out, baby...I'm a normal." This is Richard Eugene Hickock, talking about himself. They're as sick a pair as Leopold and Loeb and together they killed a mother, a father, a pretty 17-year-old and her brother, none of whom they'd seen before, in cold blood. A couple of days before they had bought a 100 foot rope to garrote them—enough for ten people if necessary. This small pogrom took place in Holcomb, Kansas, a lonesome town on a flat, limitless landscape: a depot, a store, a cafe, two filling stations, 270 inhabitants. The natives refer to it as "out there." It occurred in 1959 and Capote has spent five years, almost all of the time which has since elapsed, in following up this crime which made no sense, had no motive, left few clues—just a footprint and a remembered conversation. Capote's alternating dossier Shifts from the victims, the Clutter family, to the boy who had loved Nancy Clutter, and her best friend, to the neighbors, and to the recently paroled perpetrators: Perry, with a stunted child's legs and a changeling's face, and Dick, who had one squinting eye but a "smile that works." They had been cellmates at the Kansas State Penitentiary where another prisoner had told them about the Clutters—he'd hired out once on Mr. Clutter's farm and thought that Mr. Clutter was perhaps rich. And this is the lead which finally broke the case after Perry and Dick had drifted down to Mexico, back to the midwest, been seen in Kansas City, and were finally picked up in Las Vegas. The last, even more terrible chapters, deal with their confessions, the law man who wanted to see them hanged, back to back, the trial begun in 1960, the post-ponements of the execution, and finally the walk to "The Corner" and Perry's soft-spoken words—"It would be meaningless to apologize for what I did. Even inappropriate. But I do. I apologize." It's a magnificent job—this American tragedy—with the incomparable Capote touches throughout. There may never have been a perfect crime, but if there ever has been a perfect reconstruction of one, surely this must be it.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 1965

ISBN: 0375507906

Page Count: 343

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1965

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