Sure to appeal to armchair rogues and, like Blood Diamond, cinema-ready.

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FLAWLESS

INSIDE THE LARGEST DIAMOND HEIST IN HISTORY

Exciting, well-crafted tale of the “School of Turin,” a gang of master thieves who looted the putatively theft-proof Antwerp Diamond Center.

Selby and Campbell (Blood Diamonds: Tracing The Deadly Path of the World’s Most Precious Stones, 2002, etc.) provide an engrossing nonfiction thriller with a truly improbable story at its center, but they also provide a colorful look at the shadowy world of the diamond trade—how they’re graded, sold, secured and stolen. In February 2003, the prim staff of the Diamond Center—a supposedly impregnable fortress at the heart of that city’s ultra-secure “Diamond Square Mile”—found their vault had been looted over the weekend, with discarded gems piled on the floor. The heist was the product of two years’ worth of planning by the storied School of Turin, a near-mythical fraternity of secretive jewel thieves based in an Italian city known for its clever criminals. The authors initially focus on the gang’s “inside man,” Leonardo Notarbartolo, who brazenly rented an office in the complex, then spent endless hours casing it, using tricks like a hidden video camera in the vault—one of the book’s strengths is the attention to the minutiae of the heist. The Diamond Center’s various defenses proved no match for the gang, whose specialists patiently analyze the various alarms, cameras, locks and sensors guarding the vault. The actual heist went smoothly, but the thieves miscalculated terribly afterward, throwing away incriminating trash in a forest patrolled by a ranger obsessed with littering. When Notarbartolo returned to the Diamond Center to allay suspicion, the cops were waiting for him. He served six years in prison, but almost none of the estimated $500 million in loot was recovered. Many readers will agree that “their capture and incarceration for the largest diamond heist in history seems to have been well worth the price they paid.” Selby and Campbell offer an effective, well-researched collaboration, in which the classic heist story illustrates the seamy underbelly and criminal lure behind the bright façade of the diamond industry.

Sure to appeal to armchair rogues and, like Blood Diamond, cinema-ready.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4027-6651-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Union Square/Sterling

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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The author brings the case for judicial redress before the court of public opinion.

LICENSED TO LIE

EXPOSING CORRUPTION IN THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

A former Justice Department lawyer, who now devotes her private practice to federal appeals, dissects some of the most politically contentious prosecutions of the last 15 years.

Powell assembles a stunning argument for the old adage, “nothing succeeds like failure,” as she traces the careers of a group of prosecutors who were part of the Enron Task Force. The Supreme Court overturned their most dramatic court victories, and some were even accused of systematic prosecutorial misconduct. Yet former task force members such as Kathryn Ruemmler, Matthew Friedrich and Andrew Weissman continued to climb upward through the ranks and currently hold high positions in the Justice Department, FBI and even the White House. Powell took up the appeal of a Merrill Lynch employee who was convicted in one of the subsidiary Enron cases, fighting for six years to clear his name. The pattern of abuse she found was repeated in other cases brought by the task force. Prosecutors of the accounting firm Arthur Andersen pieced together parts of different statutes to concoct a crime and eliminated criminal intent from the jury instructions, which required the Supreme Court to reverse the Andersen conviction 9-0; the company was forcibly closed with the loss of 85,000 jobs. In the corruption trial of former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, a key witness was intimidated into presenting false testimony, and as in the Merrill Lynch case, the prosecutors concealed exculpatory evidence from the defense, a violation of due process under the Supreme court’s 1963 Brady v. Maryland decision. Stevens’ conviction, which led to a narrow loss in his 2008 re-election campaign and impacted the majority makeup of the Senate, seems to have been the straw that broke the camel's back; the presiding judge appointed a special prosecutor to investigate abuses. Confronted with the need to clean house as he came into office, writes Powell, Attorney General Eric Holder has yet to take action.

The author brings the case for judicial redress before the court of public opinion.

Pub Date: May 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61254-149-5

Page Count: 456

Publisher: Brown Books

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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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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