Thursday, January 4, 2018

Scott M. Deitche's "Garden State Gangland"

Scott M. Deitche's books include Cigar City Mafia: A Complete History of the Tampa Underworld, The Silent Don: The World of Santo Trafficante Jr., and Cocktail Noir: From Gangsters and Gin Joints to Gumshoes and Gimlets.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Garden State Gangland: The Rise of the Mob in New Jersey, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Garden State Gangland: The Rise of the Mob in New Jersey is a full-page, black and white photo. The caption reads, “Willie Moretti murder scene”, and it is a gruesome photo of the mobster Willie Moretti laying dead on the floor of Joe’s Elbow Room in Palisades, New Jersey, blood pooling under his head where he was just shot. Though it has no words apart from the caption, the photo does capture the feel of the book. It’s ostensibly about the history of organized crime in New Jersey, from the 1900s through the present, with narratives weaved through important figures and events (like Willie’s death). But, like the murder photo, the book is a few things more. At times, it’s gruesome, with stories of mob hits and hardened criminals. It is also nostalgic, with historic accounts of bootleggers, nightclubs, and Frank Sinatra. It’s matter of fact- I like to research my topics and present information as close to the truth as possible.

But above all else, the photo perfectly illustrates the way people view gangsters and the movies and books about their exploits. There, in the background of the photo, lined shoulder to shoulder, are spectators gazing upon the crime scene, appalled yet absolutely fascinated.
Visit Scott Deitche's website.

--Marshal Zeringue