The Inside Story of a Canadian Bitter, Minima, and Police Informer
by Cecil Kirby and Thomas C. Renner
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|Crime and Punishment
by LARRY MORTON
In his foreward to Mesa Assassin, Thomas C. Renner tells us "there is nothing heroic" about Cecil Kirby, a former Mafia enforcer turned informer. "He has lived a violent, often brutal life and hurt a great many people. He has killed; he has lived off the proceeds of prostitution; he has blown up restaurants, intimidated contractors, plotted murders, and stalked his victims like a hunter tracks animals."
Nevertheless, through his cooperation with the police, Kirby was instrumental in putting 18 criminals - including several highranking Mafiosi - behind bars. He also contributed testimony leading to almost 100 arrests on charges ranging from arson to murder. In short, Kirby's inside view of the underworld provided the perfect fodder for Renner, an investigative reporter and author whose previous books on organized crime have included My Life With the Mafia (with "Vincent Terms) and the best-selling Mafia Princess (with Antoinette Giancana).
Although Renner supplies the foreword and afterword, the rest of the book is all Kirby. Told in his own voice, Kirby's tale traces a long career in crime, beginning with his first visit to jail in 1966, to his controversial court testimony, 60 criminal charges later. In between, we learn about Kirby's stint as a small-time hood with the Satan's Choice motorcycle gang, whose defiance of the law was legendary; his eventual break with the group, leading to his career as an enforcer for the Calabrian Mafia, a crime organization with links in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia; and finally his ground-breaking undercover work for the police, which earned him immunity from prosecution for his past crimes and a $100,000 contract on his life.
Although the sordid details are all there, the narrative lacks intensity. In many cases, the crimes and would-be crimes are simply recited like items an a shopping list. Kirby clearly hasn't much respect for - or interest in - any of his former employers. Indeed, the latter part of his story is dominated by squabbles over money with the Mafia and the police. In the end, Kirby emerges as a bitter, albeit somewhat enlightened, man. Living on the run with a new name and identity, he realizes, among other things, that while crime may pay, it doesn't pay enough.