A chilling true story of murder and betrayal on Manhattan’s gritty West Side
It’s men like Jimmy Coonan and Mickey Featherstone who gave Hell’s Kitchen its name. In the mid-1970s, these two longtime friends take the reins of New York’s Irish mob, using brute force to give it hitherto unthinkable power. Jimmy, a charismatic sociopath, is the leader. Mickey, whose memories of Vietnam torture him daily, is his enforcer. Together they make brutality their trademark, butchering bodies or hurling them out the window. Under their reign, Hell’s Kitchen becomes a place where death literally rains from the sky. But when Mickey goes down for a murder he didn’t commit, he suspects his friend has sold him out. He returns the favor, breaking the underworld’s code of silence and testifying against his gang in open court.
From one of the creators of NYPD Blue and Homicide: Life on the Street comes an incredible true story of what it means to survive in the world of organized crime, where murder is commonplace. “Sterling social history . . . the author’s skillful reporting makes the most of his subject.” —The New Yorker “A disquieting look at a worthwhile subject: the frailties of justice in the big city.” —The New York Times “Masterfully told, gracefully written . . . the true story of the most violent men this nation has ever seen. Al Capone would have cringed . . . You want to cheer at the end . . . The Westies will blow you away.” —Edna Buchanan, author of The Corpse Had a Familiar Face
As a journalist and nonfiction author, Thomas Joseph “T. J.” English (b. 1957) is one of America’s foremost authorities on the recent history of crime. Born in Tacoma, Washington, he moved to New York in 1981, where he spent his nights driving a taxi and his days writing for Irish America magazine, producing a series of articles that would lead to his first book, The Westies (1990), an account of the last decades of a once-powerful Irish mob. Since then English has written about Vietnamese gangs, mafia infiltration of pre-Castro Cuba, and, in Savage City (2011), the history of racial tension between New York City’s police and its citizens. He has written magazine articles on modern crime for Playboy, Esquire, and New York magazine, and has also written for the screen, producing episodes for the gritty cop shows NYPD Blue and Homicide: Life on the Street. He lives in New York City.