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Summary and book reviews of Black Mass by Dick Lehr

Black Mass

The Irish Mob, The FBI, and A Devil's Deal

by Dick Lehr, Gerard O'Neill

Black Mass
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2000, 400 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2001, 424 pages

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Book Summary

A riveting epic crime story that is also a book about Boston and Irish America.

Two boys--John Connolly, and James "Whitey" Bulger--grew up together on the streets of South Boston. Decades later, in the late 1970s, they would meet again. By then, Connolly was a major figure in the FBI's Boston office and Whitey had become godfather of the Irish Mob. What happened between them-a dirty deal to trade secrets and take down Boston's Italian Mafia in the process--would spiral out of control, leading to murders, and drug dealing, and racketeering indictments. And, ultimately, to Bulger making the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List.

Told in compelling narrative style by the Boston Globe reporters who covered the case from the beginning, Black Mass is a riveting epic crime story that is also a book about Boston and Irish America; about the pull of place; and about the ties between that blind.

Chapter Six
Gang of Two?

Like a curtain rising, the garage doors at the Lancaster Foreign Car Service flew open in the spring of 1980 on a new era in Boston's underworld order. Howie Winter had fallen, and a re-alignment was underway. It was an industry shake-out, and standing in the bays of the repair shop were Whitey Bulger and Stevie Flemmi, arms folded, ready to take center stage and exploit any and all opportunities.

The old haunt, Marshall Motors in Somerville, had been abandoned in favor of this new downtown location. Though some of the former Winter Hill gangsters were on the run, others had come along. George Kaufman, who operated Marshall Motors as a front for Howie Winter, now operated the Lancaster Street Garage for Bulger and Flemmi. In the mornings the bays might be filled with the clanging and banging of mechanics' tools, but by early afternoon the tone of the place changed markedly. Most days around 1:30, Bulger and Flemmi arrived to take over the...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

A triumph of investigative reporting, this full-bodied true-crime saga by two Boston Globe reporters is a cautionary tale about FBI corruption and the abuse of power.

Library Journal

[Lehr and O'Neill] vividly capture the turbulent culture and conflicting loyalties of the Boston underworld.

Kirkus Reviews

An eye-opening true-crimer….With enough unanswered questions for two sequels, the authors offer a pile of evidence that (in South Boston at least) politics is all too local.

Author Blurb James Carroll, author of An American Requiem and Boston Globe columnist
This is a heartbreaking and enraging story of corruption and crime, but it has its heroes, especially Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill. These reporters were among the first to shine light on the shadowy collusion of heinous murderers and an FBI cut loose from its moral center. Now, with this powerful book, Lehr and O'Neill bring the whole story into the open. Black Mass is a work of rare lucidity, high drama, journalistic integrity, and plain courage.

Author Blurb Michael Patrick MacDonald, author of All Souls A Family Story from Southie
More than an exposé on the abuses of power, Black Mass tells of the shameful betrayal of all things decent by two of our own native sons who climbed the ranks of both the underworld and the FBI. The good qualities of loyalty and pride that we were raised on in Southie, were manipulated and perverted for their own gain as they promoted aculture of drugs, denial, and death on our streets. Lehr and O'Neill give us all the details with a journalistic precision that does not sacrifice the power of the story After reading Black Mass, you might wonder if any of us really knows who are the good guys and who are the bad guys.

Author Blurb Dominick Dunne
What a marvelous read Black Mass is.

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