Betrayal by Robert Fitzpatrick with Jon Land (Review #2)


BetrayalReviewed by Russell Ilg

Jon Land and Robert Fitzpatrick have combined to bring to paper the greatest “nonfiction novel” I have had the honor to read. The story of how the FBI protected and sheltered one of the most vicious and deranged killers in history is beyond what any fiction writer could scarcely imagine as a storyline and what Truman Capote had in mind when he coined the phrase in the wake of In Cold Blood. The story begins when Robert Fitzpatrick was transferred to the Boston Office of the FBI to do what he had done his whole career: close. And he was transferred to Boston to fix a broken office and reign in the problems there, just as he had done in Miami office with the ABSCAM investigation on top of his roles in the Martin Luther King Jr. assassination and civil rights murders and bombings in the 60s in Mississippi.

This book is such a page burner that I had to stop and see if the sun was still up. I simply could not put it down. It grabs you from page one and leads you on the ride of your life, and on that ride you will be brought to your knees in fear as to how corrupt the Justice Department and FBI were in this case. Officials in both simply sat back and allowed an Irish Boston gangster named Whitey Bulger to do whatever he wanted as long as they thought he was giving them info on New England’s Italian mob. And Bulger played them to the very end.

This will go down as one of the blackest eyes the FBI has ever received, Through his tireless work, Robert Fitzpatrick tried to make everyone up to the assistant director and head of the Organized Crime unit in Washington understand that they were being conned by one of the greatest con men in history. †The FBI was so sure that Whitey Bulger was giving them what they needed they did everything they could to stop Agent Fitzpatrick from doing his job to the point that he finally had to leave the only life he had known and loved and respected and honored his whole career.

The recent capture of Bulger in June did not at all close one of the darkest chapters in the storied history of the FBI. Soon he will go on trial for at least nineteen murders, most of which were committed while working for the FBI and at least a dozen after Fitzpatrick recommended his tenure as an informant be ended. The Bureau did serve up one of Whitey’s handlers, John Connolly, who was convicted and sent to prison for accepting bribes and, more recently, accessory to the murder of one Fitzpatrick’s own informants who could have given Bulger up once and for all.

This book is a huge read, providing an inside look as to how bad things can get and how many people’s lives are thrown away toward what is believed to be the greater good. Some reports link Bulger to over forty murders in total—think about the national manhunts that have been authorized for far, far less than that.†The great part is that after reading the book you’ll be primed to follow the next chapter in this true story in what promises to be one of the highest profile murder trials in Massachusetts history when Whitey’s day of reckoning finally comes in April.

I had the great honor of speaking to Robert Fitzpatrick for about thirty minutes on the phone and learned even more of the inside story and also the fact that for quite awhile after leaving the FBI he was in constant fear for his life. The fact that this novel-like tale is real, that it actually happened, makes it in my mind one the best thrillers ever written along with one of the most disturbing books, as it confronts us with the overriding question of how could this happen? Fitzpatrick supplies no easy answers; sometimes just posing the question is enough.

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