In writing MAFIA SPIES, there were a number of books that influenced me. Fellow Long Islander Erik Larson’s book THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY, about a serial killer at the 1898 Chicago Worlds Fair, was one of them. I tried to keep in mind the structure of his book when assembling my own tale of two gangsters hired by the CIA to kill Fidel Castro. MAFIA SPIES really is a paean to American violence:
-- there's the first (known) US state-sanctioned assassination attempt of a foreign leader, authorized in a bloodless way by the CIA who used "cutouts" and coded language to avoid any culpability;
-- second, the calculated corporate "hits" of the organized crime families, who strategically eliminated the competition especially in Chicago, Las Vegas and New York;
-- and then, there's the wildly psychotic, random violence of killers like Sam "Crazy Sam" DeStefano -- a favorite of Chicago boss Sam Giancana -- who kept a torture chamber in the basement of his house, just like the protagonist in Larson's tale.
Here’s Larson talking about his book.