Sunday, August 08, 2010
Legends of Winter Hill
by Jay Atkinson
Three Rivers Press
Softcover, 363 pages, $14
Review by Zvi A. Sesling
Too many writers choose Boston for their detective stories. But Jay Atkinson, who wrote Legends of Winter Hill, has chosen true life than fiction. His hero is Joe McCain, a real detective pursuing real criminals who commit real crimes. Atkinson’s revelations about true crime is, as Humphrey Bogart says at the end of The Maltese Falcon, “The stuff legends are made of.”
Atkinson takes through the back alleys of crime – dirty cops, murder, robberies and lesser crimes like insurance fraud, workmen’s comp fraud – a hodge podge of major and lesser crimes that could – and do – fill the book.
He takes us through Somerville, eating at Redbones just off Davis Square and a Vietnamese Restaurant in Union Square. He takes us into Boston, Chelsea, Medford, Revere and other communities in the greater Boston area like Quincy, trying to videotape a man who is defrauding an insurance company with a fake injury. Everywhere he takes us where perpetrators live or operate and you wonder how he and McCain survive their run-ins with the underworld, and even clean cops who do not like the idea of their own being uncovered as dirty.
Each chapter is like a separate story and the dialogue, like the action in the book is real, not made up fiction, which makes it all the more interesting.
You will know the people, the locations and most of all you will know McCain through
Atikinson’s eyes and writing, which is crisp, fast paced and not only a true crime book,
but a look at the history of criminals, including the notorious Teddy Deegan case in which law enforcement officials framed several men, two of whom died in prison, for a murder they never committed and which cost taxpayers not only to keep them locked up,
but the millions of dollars they were awarded for their lost years. Yes, it is a book worth
reading and learning the lessons of criminals and misguided law enforcement which, more than likely, still happening