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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.

Betrayal by Robert Fitzpatrick with Jon Land

BetrayalReviewed by Sam Millar

“You want a bullet in the head?”

Writers of fiction are always advised to make sure that the first line of their book hooks the reader into the story and hopefully keeps them there until the very end. The above first line in Jon Land’s mesmerizing new book, Betrayal, is as sharp a hook as one is likely to find in today’s modern crime stories. However, what makes the quote all the more salient is that Betrayal isn’t fiction, but the true tale of two men, Robert Fitzpatrick, one of the most celebrated FBI agents of his time, and James Joseph ‘Whitey’ Bulger, the feared head of South Boston’s Irish Winter Hill gang, of whom Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-winning The Departed was loosely based on.

In 1980, Fitzpatrick was assigned to Boston when his boss Roy McKinnon needed an Irishman to ‘kick ass and take names.’ The reason being that no one in the Boston Bureau seemed to be in control or have a clue when it came to taking down Bulger’s empire of criminality. At least that was Fitzpatrick’s initial belief. However, it wasn’t too long before he discovered something more sinister in the cupboards of officialdom other than writing pads and pens: skeletons, and plenty of them.

Most of the skeletons belonged to Bulger, in one way or another. So why the hell wasn’t the king of crime languishing in the local lock-up, awaiting trial, instead of sitting on his throne of ill-gotten gains? The more rocks Fitzpatrick looked under, the more startling the findings he made. Almost everyone, it seemed, was in the pockets of Bulger. Worse, they appeared to be turning blind eyes to all the alleged murders ordered or carried out by Bulger. Something would have to be done to stop him. Now, not tomorrow. But as Fitzpatrick was soon to discover, that was easier said than done…