Re: RARA-AVIS: Recent reads

From: Joy Matkowski (
Date: 28 May 2002

I was the one who was mumbling about the implausibility of biker wars a while back, and I thought about biker wars yesterday when I came across something similar. Everybody's been talking about Lehane, and although it seems to me I read something I didn't care for by him long ago, when I saw a stack in the library, I took the one with the earliest copyright date to see what everybody's talking about.
    This was _A Drink before the War,_ and the "war" is a gang war among black teens and preteens. I checked the copyright date again, and it's 1994. I was a juror on a gang war trial in Philadelphia in 1970, and from the testimony the mayhem was similar to what Lehane describes for the 1990s, but I haven't heard of such activities in Pennsylvania since the mid-1970s.
(There have been flare-ups of mayhem, e.g., the Junior Black Mafia, but strictly drug-related stuff.) Is gang warfare like biker wars--going on in Boston or Montreal but not in the broadcast area for my local news?
    BTW, that's a gory book, with even the protagonists blowing away sundry miscreants in self-defense and otherwise, spousal abuse keeping one detective battered, child abuse initiating the current case and having mutilated the other partner (who commits sexual harassment), and Bubba being the worst case of psychotic sidekick I've ever seen.
    And it seems to me I recently read another book whose PIs have offices in a church.

> John Farrow, City of Ice (1990). It's about the biker war in Montreal (the
> Russian mafia is part of it), with a police detective trying to solve a
> couple of murders. There is an espionage angle, as well. Kind of gory, a
> few torture scenes. I found it especially interesting because it takes
> place in Montreal, where I live, and especially scary for the same reason.
> There was some discussion a while back about the reality of biker gangs
> wars. They are a real problem here. The trial of the head of the Nomads
> (Hell's Angels "elite"), Maurice "Mom" Boucher, just wound up, with him
> being found guilty of ordering the murders of two randomly selected prison
> guards. Another massive trial of 17 Hell's Angels is still going on.

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