Rogues’ Gallery: The Birth of Modern Policing and Organized Crime in Gilded Age New York

Dutton. Sept. 2021. 528p. ISBN 9781524745653. $32. CRIME
Former attorney Oller (White Shoe: How a New Breed of Wall Street Lawyers Changed Big Business—and the American Century) explores the sordid criminal world of New York City’s Gilded Age and the star detectives who solved some of U.S. history’s most storied crimes. Part social history, part true crime, this book largely focuses on legendary detective Thomas F. Byrnes, who helped develop now-widespread police procedures. (Byrnes didn’t come up with “the third degree,” but he pioneered the use of the interrogation technique, Oller writes.) Oller covers crimes that Byrnes was instrumental in solving, such as the robbery of the Manhattan Savings Institution. He also discusses Byrnes’s successors in the New York Police Department in the early 20th century, including Art Carey and Max Schmittberger, who had their own host of cases to solve and people to apprehend, including Black Hand extortionists tied to the Italian mafia and members of rapidly expanding street gangs. The book is well written, with enough background detail to make the time period and its criminals understandable to the nonexpert.
VERDICT Perfect for New York City history buffs or true crime readers, this is a well-rounded work that can fill a few spots.
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