By Susan WinlowFrom
“Linda, I want to kill your husband, but I need your permission. I don’t want you to live with the guilt.” Gregory Scarpa Sr.
Such is everyday life it seems in the Colombo Mafia crime family where killings, beatings and opulence were (are still?) a fact of life.
Readers get a glimpse into the life of one of the most notorious hitmen of the generation, Gregory Scarpa Sr. in “The Mafia Hit Man’s Daughter” written by his daughter Linda Scarpa and a Boston freelance writer named Linda Rosencrance.
Mafia crime families have fascinated me since I was a child in the 1960s.
I scoured every organized crime story in the daily newspapers and avidly tuned into the news during the ensuing decades when it seemed mobster activities were always on the nightly news. I was probably the only 12-year-old who could name the five crime families of New York and knew about the key players in the evolving role for dominance. Up until this day, I watched in fascination as the Whitey Bulger case unfolded.
I do draw the line at reality television involving anyone, including mob families, and at times, this book read like a reality TV show.
The Scarpas aren’t new to the media arena and given the media tidbits I already knew I read this “true account” memoir with Google at my fingertips, doing my own research along the way – ferreting out the possible exaggerations, inconsistencies and finding out both sides to the stories told in the book.
The memoir offered a glimpse inside the inner workings of the Colombo crime family, a walk, if you will, with Greg Scarpa – also known as The Grim Reaper – through Colombo hang out Wimpy Boys Social Club, the Scarpa home, their neighborhood and even a trip into his mind, from his daughter’s point of view.
It’s the story of a father who plotted hits and kills by day, and was home by 5 p.m. for family dinner. It’s a story about a man, an FBI informant and an adulterer who kept two families, who had no mercy for others, but lavished attention and love on his children; so much so, he allegedly offered to kill his daughter’s husband.
She declined the offer.
Despite being lavished with attention by all her father’s mob cronies, it’s a lonely life for Linda who isn’t well-liked at school or in the neighborhood because of her father’s notoriety. Her father didn’t hide mob duties from the family. Linda grew up knowing things no child should know. She knew about plotted hits, killings, beatings and the “disappearances” of those who crossed her father. She witnessed an attempted hit on her father, who eventually died of AIDS in prison, as well.
I enjoyed the book, which was written also using excerpts from hitman Scarpa’s long-time girlfriend, Linda Schiro, who was with him for decades. Like with any memoir, I was cognizant that there are two or three sides to each story, and memoirs usually tell one side. Published reports do state that Schiro has told inconsistent stories in the past, including those surrounding Gregory Scarpa’s FBI handler, Lindley DeVecchio, who had legal troubles of his own with his alleged close friendship and dealings with Scarpa.
I have to admit, I got a little irritated at some of the repetitiveness – I only need to read once how much daddy loved daughter – and there were some little inconsistencies such as whether Scarpa was a lenient father or a strict one with unbending curfews through high school.
Along with the insatiable desire to read about the Mafia, this book gave me new insight regarding Gregory Scarpa’s dealings (allegedly deadly and corrupt) with the FBI – and there are lots more to read about that subject!
Susan Winlow is a freelance writer. She is the former features editor for the Daily Republic. You can find her on her blog at www.youvebeenbooked.com/blog, or email her email@example.com.
“The Mafia Hit Man’s Daughter” by Linda Scarpa, Linda Rosencrance
Release date: Dec. 29